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Cain deludes self concerning audit allegations

It’s entirely conceivable that former Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain thinks what he did was not wrong. If so, that only goes to show the kind of entitlement bubble in which these people live, blind to what folks without delusions see.

A recent report issued by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor faulted Cain on several accounts in the latter years of his tenure, where he retired abruptly early last year after critical reports appeared in the media that prompted the audit. It alleges he benefitted to the tune of about $20,000 in free materials and services, as well as enjoying an unspecified amount of free labor.

To which, Cain replied via talk radio, was much ado about nothing, at least concerning he and his family members. He said the supposed free labor – provided by Angola employees on his house off premises – occurred if state employees he contracted to failed to report they took time off from their state duties, absolving him of any responsibility. He argued that any unauthorized purchases to furnish his on-premises abode remained state property. And as far as family members employed by the Department of Corrections utilizing living quarters at Angola even though the state offered to or did subsidize their housing elsewhere, he claimed the space was vacant in any event, so what was the difference in where they were on any given day if the state committed to subsidizing them anyway?

Some of what he asserted the legal system would have a hard time proving as criminal. Ultimately, if people testify they did not feel coerced to work on his private residence but on the days they did then failed to indicate they took off, that does fall on them – even if what they say now differs from what they felt then, and Cain knew this to exploit his position of power over them, despite his current protestations otherwise.

But much of his defense he equates with taking home pencils from his employer. In his mind, so what that he broke purchasing rules in furnishing his campus pad? He left the unauthorized pencils there when he no longer was using them as a state employee, right? And his explanation about relatives using state housing shows no understanding of the malfeasance to taxpayers involved: if you argue that only they used the guest housing, then why have taxpayers build and maintain it since they have their own elsewhere, but if non-relatives used it as well, then letting relatives stay so often – an average of 37 nights a year – may have crowded out others for which taxpayers intended to have lodging available?

Even Cain made an admission last year that he had skirted the law when he sent a money order months after his departure for $250, ostensibly to cover “incidental and outstanding expenses” from his stint in state service. The audit identified one such item that may have qualified in his mind, treating at Angola iron gating for his private home, valued around $1,100. The note with the belated remuneration requested contact if that amount seemed inadequate – a hollow gesture at best, for how would the state know of under-the-radar transactions upon which the audit shed light without actually going through an audit?

This line of thinking reflects a nauseous entitlement mentality, that he could grab some goodies because he saw as so tremendously valuable his contribution to the state. To him, that justifies and makes moral such behavior; after all, to him in the larger scheme of things, it’s just about pencils.

However, to the rest of the world that understands that with principles distinguishing right and wrong behavior of public servants there are no contingencies, it’s clear he crossed the line. Relevant prosecutors currently have the audit results under consideration for potential action, and Cain’s former boss (and business partner and ongoing friend) Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc has advocated that the state bring civil actions to recoup the funds in dispute.

Of course, prosecutors try cases where they think they can prevail, at least partially, so if no indictments come, as Cain predicts, then perhaps they will have decided the odds not good enough to commit public funds to secure conviction of a figure well-connected politically. If so, LeBlanc should follow through to make taxpayers whole.

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