For the second time in a year, Democrat Brown faces charges of domestic violence; this time concerning his wife after last year’s incident involving his mistress. Neither case has come to trial, and while he deserves the presumption of innocence until judicial resolution, he already had garnered a small punishment by Republican Sen. Pres. John Alario who withheld any committee chairmanships of vice chairmanships, which usually come to a reelected senator of the governor’s party.
The Constitution grants the Senate the ability to discipline or to expel a member, by a two-thirds vote. No other body of law relative to the Senate has information about various disciplines available, but Alario made no move to invoke any since last year. Again, this may be appropriate given no conviction of Brown at present, but at the same time the alleged impropriety has brought shame to the institution.
Although in response no other informal means of expressing displeasure at Brown came save Alario’s, yet recent history shows he could have done more. For example, when GOP state Rep. Kenny Havard bombed in his joking attempt to amend a bill that only raised (self-righteous) indignation, Alario deemed it offensive and as a result delayed progress on any of his bills that had hit the Senate at that time. Brown’s legislation faced no such slowdown, perhaps because he provided a consistent vote for Alario’s political master Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.
And while Democrats quickly piled on Havard, almost none have made a public statement expressing dismay about Brown. The state party has gone inappropriately missing in action on this matter. Its chairwoman Democrat state Sen. Karen Peterson called Havard’s faux pas disgusting, outrageous, and not funny, but not a peep publicly has come from her about Brown’s second arrest. Nor have any other officials from the state party made any comment on that, after having sent a May 20 message on Twitter critical of Havard, making for a doubleheader of double-standards for the party leadership.
Alario also did not introduce or use his influence to have introduced a resolution this past regular session to discipline Brown. This only had to state that the Senate had the power to review the matter, and it did not have to pursue an inquest immediately. This way, as the rules permit an investigation and resolution when the Senate is out of session, discussion of a penalty could have started soon after his second run-in.
As a result of the latest controversy, Alario only has decided to remove Brown from his committee slots, which does not act as much of a punishment because while legislators do value their abilities to have input on and control of legislation at this level, this also becomes time-consuming and often mind-numbingly dull. But given Brown’s status without convictions in court to this point, at least rhetorical approbation for embarrassing the state seems in order, and the closest anyone has come to that is the GOP’s Alario musing that Brown should seek counseling.
Chalk up this barely a word of disapproval stemming from, regrettably, political motives. Maybe a little criticism for putting the state in a bad light might have served as a deterrent for him getting himself into another such questionable situation. Thus, the failure here does not belong just to him, but also extends to other politicians quick to criticize others for lesser alleged crimes but who become circumspect when it suits their political agenda.