Other Voices| SouthCoastToday.ca: Disgraced New Orleans politician begins prison term

Corrupt New Orleans politician Aaron Broussard enters federal prison in North Carolina Monday after being convicted of a rash of charges of fraud and bribery, some with connections to businesses and property he owned or managed in the Kempt Wilderness in Nova Scotia. He was sentenced to three years, ten months in a minimum security facility.

In a TV interview over the weekend, Broussard described how he entered politics forty years ago fighting the political machine and “good old boy” system, only to become the poster child for political corruption in a notably corrupt town. Broussard was president of Jefferson Parish, the largest in the state. “I’m leaving politics as a good old boy in disgrace,” Broussard told reporter Travers Mackel.

Broussard’s criminal case involved several charges, of which he insisted he was innocent and would fight to the end.

He finally admitted in court to scheming in 2003 to give his then-girlfriend — later his wife — a public job for which she was not qualified and at which she rarely appeared. He also confessed that he took bribe payments totaling $66,000 to help steer public contracts to a Kenner businessman. His ex-wife, his chief administrative officer, his parish attorney and the businessman also pleaded guilty to federal charges.

“If you’re involved in a scandal, then you wear the scarlet letter for the rest of your life, and beyond the grave,” Broussard told another reporter. “I regret every single act and thing that I did that leads me to walk into the prison gates on Monday.”

In her own case, Broussard’s ex-wife, Karen Broussard Parker, testified that Broussard took hundreds of thousands of dollars from contractors doing business with the Parish and used a holding company to generate funds from vacation properties he owned in the Kempt Wilderness in Nova Scotia. Court documents show Broussard owned 50 percent of a company called Public Works Investments and 16.65 percent of Kempt Wilderness Lodge Services, registered in Yarmouth County and described as companies that developed and managed rental properties.

Broussard’s alleged connection to award-winning Trout Point Lodge in the Kempt wilderness has been at the root of several other law suits filed in Nova Scotia and Louisiana, at least one of which is still ongoing. Two of the legal actions resulted in retractions by Louisiana media firms, one was settled out of court and one resulted in a $400,000-plus judgement for Trout Point Lodge and its owners against Mississippi political blogger Doug Handshoe. A U.S. court turned back the effort to have the judgement enforced, saying that an acceptable standard of proof had not been met. “The judgment of the Canadian court is unenforceable in the United States because Canadian law provides less stringent protections for freedom of speech than United States laws and Handshoe would not have been found liable for defamation in a domestic court.”

Trout Point Lodge and its owners have been named among a long list of “coconspirators” in a major political corruption law suit in New Orleans and Handshoe has been named in a separate suit brought by Trout Point partner Danny Abel, who once practiced law along side Broussard. Handshoe has maintained that the law suits brought against him by figures connected to Louisiana corruption cases are designed to prevent him from or punish him for reporting the details of that corruption.

Publisher’s note: Trout Point Lodge and its owners have reportedly been amended out of the Concrete Busters lawsuit.

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