After eight and a half years in federal prison, legendary former Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards has been released and arrived at a halfway house in Baton Rouge early this morning.
Edwards, a Democrat who served an unprecedented four terms as governor in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, is now 83 years old. He had always managed to stay one step ahead of the law until his fourth term in the mid-1990s, when the legalization of gambling in Louisiana provided so many opportunities for graft and corruption that Edwards and his cronies fell victim to their own excesses.
Legalized gambling lured to the state the big national gaming corporations, no innocents, but which by then were more Fortune 500 than mobbed-up Vegas. They were shocked by the brazenness of the state’s Edwards-style political corruption. The feds were determined not to let Edwards escape their grasp this time, and aggressively wiretapped and secretly videotaped the governor.
Edwards was known nationally for his flamboyance — especially his womanizing — yet he was often described by those who dealt with him in person as the coldest, most affectless person they’d ever encountered. His poker face was his calling card in politics and in the casinos he frequented in Vegas, although his preferred game was craps.
He divorced his long suffering wife Elaine in 1989, and remarried to a blonde 30something named Candy in 1994, during his final term in office. He divorced Candy 10 years later while in prison. The latest reports are that Edwards has taken up with another blonde 30something while still in prison and is said to be contemplating marriage.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.