A Louisiana state lawmaker admitted to misspending $37,000 from his campaign funds. Worse, he used the money for gambling. But he’s ready to make amends, and attributed his sin to an addiction that he said he thinks was a side effect of an anti-Parkinson’s disease medication he used.
Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard of Thibodaux also shared that he has since reached an agreement with the Board of Ethics saying he intends to repay the misused funds and to acknowledge his improper use of campaign donations.
Richard is not affiliated with any party. He confessed that he started using his campaign funds for gambling after he ran out of his personal money. Richard, a lawmaker since 2008, said: “I spent whatever I had to my name, and I started using campaign funds.
Richard thinks that such gambling addiction may have been caused in part by medication he had been taking to control hand tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. He said his addiction started when he began taking the drug and ended when he also stopped taking said medication.
Studies have confirmed that anti-Parkinson medications occasionally spark compulsions like pathologic gambling, including the drug that Richard admitted to taking. He further explained that prior to taking the said drug mid-2011, he had no interest in gambling.
Richard said that while he is attributing his once gambling addiction to the anti-Parkinson medications, he is also taking rightful responsibility for his actions. He said: “The drugs involved, I’m sure they had something to do with it. But I’ve taken responsibility, and I’m moving forward.”
He also said that he has sent a statement explaining the ethics violation to each House member. The lawmaker said inspite of what he had admitted to, he has no plans of resigning from his post. He said that asking for forgiveness is all he could do. He admitted, though: “The hard part is facing the public.”
Kathleen Allen, ethics administrator would not confirm on Wednesday if a consent agreement has indeed been reached with Richard.