In recent news Stuart Bishop, Louisiana Legislature for District 43, issued a statement ahead of entering a 30-day treatment program. Bishop wrote: “I have made a choice to seek help and I will be away for the next 30 days in a program to focus on my alcohol dependence.” Bishop continued: “My goal is to put my family, health, and well-being as a top priority so when I return, I can be the best husband, father, and community servant possible.” We wish Bishop and his family the best with and following his recovery.
Bishop is the second Lafayette area politician to announce seeking treatment for substance abuse issues in the last few months. Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory wrote in a statement issued towards the end of July of 2022: “I made the decision to voluntarily check myself into an in-patient rehabilitation facility for 21 days to help me overcome what I believe was becoming an addiction to alcohol and untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Many questioned the sincerity of Guillory’s statement at the time with allegations ranging from it being a cover-up for domestic issues to others indicating him suffering from PTSD was laughable. Whatever the case may be, this recent trend appears to be a new form of virtue signaling among politicians or in some cases a cover for more nefarious actions or poor decision making.
Is addiction recovery the new virtue signal?
Bishop and Guillory are not alone in this trend of politicians openly announcing their struggle with addiction. Earlier this year another Louisiana lawmaker, Karen Carter Peterson, resigned her position to focus on issues with a gambling addiction and depression. Just a few months later Peterson found herself charged in federal court through of bill of information alleging the commission of wire fraud.
Guillory likewise sought treatment following a number of actions within his administration which have resulted in litigation and public criticism. Most notably being the Cypress Island Spoil banks removal which seems to have garnered the attention of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the US Department of Environmental Quality, the FBI, and which is currently being litigated in Federal court. Guillory has also come under fire for other questionable practices openly dismissing allegations as being ‘political motivated.’
Bishop, the latest local public official to announce entering rehab, was involved in a fist fight at a Baton Rouge bar with another legislator just a few years ago. He and then Senator Norby Chabert allegedly had a dispute that spilled over from the House floor. It resulted in Chabert throwing several punches at Bishop. Bishop denied striking Chabert. Although police were called, but no arrest or citations appear to have been issued. Bishop did jokingly up the ante making a statements that next time they would use “dueling guns.” Perhaps that is the origin of the Melinda White dispute resolution program we have seen surface in the House.
CNLA Investigates OWI Allegation Involving Bishop
Interestingly enough, Bishop’s entrance into a recovery program comes while Citizens for a New Louisiana was actively investigating allegations of a potential cover-up in Grand Isle, Louisiana. In August of this year CNLA received a tip that Bishop was involved in a traffic stop involving alcohol, but no arrest or citation was issued. CNLA initially submitted a public records request to the Grand Isle Police Department seeking “any records with regards to a traffic stop conducted by the Grand Isle Place Department occurring between August 4 and August 6, 2022 involving a subject by the name of Stuart Bishop.” In response we were advised: “Grand Isle Police Department does not have any incident reports on that name; There are no citations, summonses, or arrests under that name with the clerk of court’s office and there is no mention of that name on our radio/phone logs.”
Additional requests to the Grand Isle Police Department were more successful. We sought call logs and records pertaining to vehicles owned and/or operated by Stuart Bishop. A few days later we received a call from the Grand Isle Police Department indicating ‘we didn’t know that was who that was!’
The call logs produced by the Grand Isle Police Department ultimately reveal an incident which occurred on August 5, 2022 at 1444 hours (2:44pm) involving Bishop’s vehicle. The log list an incident (JP220803348) described as a signal 18 (traffic incident) occurring at the 4100 block of Highway 1 involving Bishop’s vehicle. There isn’t much more detail contained on the log. The Grand Isle Police Department also denied there being any reports, dash camera footage or body camera footage related to this incident.
Instead of letting the very thin record speak for itself, we were provided with additional unsolicited details concerning the incident. In a narrative response we were advised that Captain Walter Theriot located a vehicle (which we know to be owned by Bishop) “parked partially on the shoulder and partially on the lane of travel. A subject from the residence came out and moved the vehicle. No name was procured. The exact address is unknown.”
Whether there is more to the story remains unknown. There are secrets lurking in the dark corners of just about every government entity. We would expect no less from a town which is now renown as a hideout for one of the FBI’s most wanted gangsters, Whitey Bulger.