- Will Broyles
This past Thursday, April 26th, citizens of Shreveport got the experience it was finally due… a corrupt public official in the crosshairs of law enforcement. Public corruption was in full view as federal prosecutors indicted Caddo Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne for stealing $536,000 in federal monies earmarked and intended to feed poverty stricken children without means to otherwise be fed (here).
Casual observers would see Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator on the dais at the news conference announcing the indictment and likely assume that this was a case of local law enforcement leading the way in holding an elected official accountable. Such is truly not the case. As we (Elliott Stonecipher and I) have explained repeatedly on Real Shreveport, there is in fact no local law enforcement leading to root out corruption in our government. This investigation into abuse of funds in and around the school district started with the Louisiana Inspector General’s office, and required the US Attorney’s office to bring an indictment forth. Prator’s office was involved afterwards, but clearly not leading.
The fact is that this all began to break loose two years ago (March 2016) when people from within the Caddo School district began coming forward complaining about open corruption within the system. When people in the know wanted to tell the truth about the systemic violation of several laws within our school system, they experienced a complete indifference from those who were directly in charge of the violators. These sources found themselves completely alone with nobody caring to listen within official leadership or the media… only one source was trusted to give the story to… Real Shreveport. When the whistleblowers told us their stories, they were credible and they were clearly in fear of retribution. They trusted us, and we trusted and verified them. Elliott Stonecipher broke the story with his piece: Explosive Charges by “Bill Unsharpened” Hit CPSB Top Staff. That was followed by articles and video interviews: ‘Bill Unsharpened’ Speaks Out About Theft Coverup at Woodlawn High, Bill Unsharpened Claims Hundreds of Computers Never Arrive in Caddo Classrooms, and Bill Unsharpened Alleges Title 1 Homeless Fraud within CPSB.
Thus, the story got out, making a huge splash on social media, and local leaders still refused to even listen to, or acknowledge, what was being reported. Instead, those of us telling the truth about the criminal wrongdoing in our school system were smeared and vilified by the apologists who benefit directly or indirectly from the largesse of the waste, graft and corruption driving our failing school system further away from its mission to educate. Even City Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch took the time to personally attack this writer as someone who she claimed fabricated “Bill Unsharpened”.
Thankfully someone in authority outside of our systemic corruption circus was listening, and I was asked for a meeting in February 2017 to disclose with an agent on the case from the State Inspector General’s Office what I knew. That led to “Bill Unsharpened” finally getting access to a law enforcement agent who helped… and a continuing conversation for him to have even recently with federal authorities. My sources tell me that there is a lot more going on with this investigation… as well as more people with a chance of being implicated.
It took someone from outside local law enforcement to decide that stealing from our poorest children was something worth pursuing. Thankfully, “Bill Unsharpened” and other whistleblowers came forward to the only two people they could trust… and identities were protected… and now an elected official faces a federal court that appears to have a slam dunk for Shreveport’s corruption opponents. Our resolve to do the work at Real Shreveport that the rest of the media abandoned (for reasons they ought to explain) is stronger than ever. There are more, similar cases yet to be pursued or completed. In my informed estimation, Cawthorne’s fall is just the tip iceberg.