Edwin Edwards, Ex-Louisiana Guv, Leaves Prison For Halfway House

January 13, 2011

Frank James

Edwin Edwards, the wisecracking and very corrupt former Louisiana governor, was released from prison for a halfway house.

Edwards, age 83, was famous not only for epic corruption but for his ability to entertain. Check out this video in which Edwards "reviews" movies in 1988. (h/t Nola.com.)

It was Edwards who delivered one of the most famous lines of political arrogance in American history when, talking of his chances in the 1984 gubernatorial campaign: ""The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy." Instant classic.

Edwards served four terms as governor before his one lengthy term in federal prison.

His undoing came when an apparently insatiable appetite for bribes caught up with him in the late 1990s.

During a grand jury probe, then-owner of the San Francisco 49ers Eddie DeBartolo told jurors that Edwards had asked for a $400,000 bribe to help him get a casino license.

Edwards' defense was somewhat unorthodox, to say the least.

Dismissing the idea that he sought a $400,000 bribe as ridiculous, he said: "If I were in a position to extort a spoiled kid who inherited $600 million, do you think I would ask for $400,000? I'd have hit him up for maybe $40 million."

Federal prosecutors audiotapes indicated otherwise. Not surprisingly, he was convicted and sentenced to a 10-year federal sentence that began in 2001.

Several Louisiana politicians, including former Sen. John Breaux, asked President George W. Bush to pardon Edwards before Bush left office but he refused. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.