Hosts of JBE’s Campaign Kickoff Targeted in FBI Vote Buying Investigation
Amite, LA – Last weekend, John Bel Edwards kicked off his campaign for reelection in his childhood hometown of Amite, Louisiana. The event was hosted by Amite Mayor Buddy Bel and emceed by Amite businessman Tom Brumfield.
Yes, this is the same Buddy Bel accused by the Amite Police Chief of cutting the power to the local evidence room and allowing it to be robbed.
Yes, this is the same Buddy Bel that was subpoenaed by FBI investigators regarding his connection with a vote buying scheme in Tangipahoa Parish.
Yes, this is the same Tom Brumfield that was ALSO subpoenaed by federal agents regarding his involvement with the same vote buying investigation.
According to an exclusive report by The Advocate: The FBI has cast a wide net, examining parish races going back to 2011, two sources stated. Yet agents have taken a special interest in certain political operatives, including Louis Ruffino, a former mayor of Roseland who for years has offered "get out the vote" services to local candidates.
Long-time Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards, John Bel Edwards’ brother, said he never hired Ruffino, the north shore operative who is under federal investigation. But John Bel Edwards acknowledged paying Ruffino $8,750 ahead of his 2011 re-election to the Louisiana House of Representatives to put up signs and perform other “routine campaign work”. The Governor’s spokesman and current campaign manager, Richard Carbo, noted that the payment was properly recorded in campaign finance reports.
“If you believe that John Bel Edwards paid an elderly mayor $8,750 to put-up a few campaign signs… I’ve got some Mardi Gras tickets to sell you,” commented LAGOP Communications Director Jason Harbison.
Of course, federal investigations connected to the Edwards family have been ongoing in Tangipahoa Parish for generations. While Sheriff, Daniel Edwards has been involved in multiple federal investigations; federal agents even confiscated his computer as evidence in one of their investigations.
Their father, long-time Sheriff Frank Edwards Jr., was also investigated by federal authorities during his campaign for reelection. In fact, former Sheriff Edwards was so frustrated by one federal investigation that he tried to sue a Special Agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
It seems the apples didn’t fall far from the tree.