Inspector General “paints” a different picture of Parish President hopeful

Murphy Painter [from his Facebook page]

Having spent the weekend responding to apologists/defenders of Murphy Painter, all of whom inaccurately argue that their man “was proven innocent” of all charges, it is time to examine the conduct resulting in Painter’s indictment.  To be perfectly clear, in December 2013 the erstwhile Ascension Parish sheriff’s candidate was acquitted by a jury on 29 counts of computer fraud and making false statements to the FBI.  All while admitting to questionable activity during his tenure as Commissioner of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC).

Painter’s “Not Guilty” verdict means, according to that trial’s arbiter, there was not sufficient evidence to determine their “guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt.”  The same applies to OJ Simpson.

Not all questionable activity, not even when it violates the law, should be subject to criminal prosecution.  Painter’s actions, while inexplicable, may very well fall into that category no matter how creepy they appear.

Louisiana’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), after conducting an investigation, reported:

“Mr. Painter illegally accessed information about private citizens as well as persons employed at all levels of state government and in some cases, their family members.  Mr. Painter conducted inquiries on a state representative, state district judges, staff members of the Louisiana Legislature and Governor’s Office, and the wife of a United States Senator.  This investigation determined that most of the citizens about whom Mr. Painter obtained personal information were females.  It was found that even though Mr. Painter’s office has statewide jurisdiction, his searches were disproportionately concentrated in the greater Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Gonzales areas…

Painter made more than 1,150 inquiries to obtain restricted information about citizens who do not hold ATC vendor permits and do not appear in the ATC database.  Mr. Painter performed 314 full NCIC searches, with 146 of those searches done to access information about individuals who are not permitted or regulated by ATC.”

A summary of that report asserts, and was not refuted by Painter, this illegitimate activity continued “even after the Louisiana State Police admonished ATC for the improper use of the system after audits in 2001 and 2008…Our investigation has shown that of the 1,884 total inquiries that Mr. Painter conducted, 1,160 were conducted on persons who are not regulated by ATC.  Of the 314 full NCIC searches, 146 were conducted on persons that are not regulated by ATC.

“Analysis of Mr. Painter’s use of the system has shown that his inquiries were performed on private citizens as well as persons employed at all levels of government and, in some cases, their family members.  Our investigation revealed that Mr. Painter made the majority of his inquiries on women.

Painter’s reply is included in the OIG’s Executive Summary.  On February 8, 2011 letter Painter’s lawyer attempted to explain the inquiries as “valid law enforcement purposes.”  Addressing individual cases cited by the OIG, the letter specified:

  • Jill Craft-Due to the ongoing legal dispute involving Mr. Painter and a client of Ms. Craft, it is inappropriate to address any inquiry of Ms. Craft allegedly conducted by Mr. Painter.  Still, Mr. Painter denies any wrongdoing.

She was among a dozen individual searches highlighted by OIG.

Painter “accessed Ms. Craft’s restricted information on three separate dates.  He also conducted an inquiry on a female attorney employed by Ms. Craft.  His access to Ms. Craft’s restricted information was followed by his printing a MapQuest map to Ms. Craft’s residence…He obtained the license plate number on a vehicle belong to Ms. Craft’s next door neighbor, conducted a vehicle registration search on (the neighbor’s) car and then an inquiry on (the neighbor) personally.”

What Painter’s actions lack in criminality is made up for in creepiness.  The full report can be read at:

 

Painter is alleged to have searched information for two WAFB reporters, his justification for the inquiry into Keitha Nelson was priceless.  His lawyer’s written response to OIG:

“Mr. Painter denies that he conducted any inquiries of Ms. Nelson.”

In a later interview with one of Nelson’s colleagues he stated (taken from the OIG Executive Summary):

“Well, if it’s Keitha Nelson, uh, uh, I, I mean there is not background check done on that.  I, I probably ran her driver’s license to see how tall she is and uh, being a former basketball player and anybody knows me at six foot three that, that, uh, uh, height in women is always something that, that, that, that I look at.  It had nothing to do with any impropriety and nothing else.”

Pelican Post has obtained a copy of that interview.  We have yet to determine Ms. Nelson’s height but will keep you posted.

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