State Sen. Troy Brown, a twice-convicted domestic abuser, is testing the limits of his colleagues’ tolerance. Brown, a Democrat from Assumption Parish, pleaded “no contest” to misdemeanor domestic abuse charges in Orleans and Assumption parishes within a period of four months.
A growing chorus of lawmakers (and Gov. John Bel Edwards) has called for Brown’s resignation — or expulsion — from the Senate. They make a convincing case, particularly in light of recently enacted anti-domestic violence legislation.
For his part, Brown is acting as if it was all a misunderstanding — with an alternate narrative that he’s already on the road to redemption. He does not make a convincing case.
There’s a separate plot line unfolding in the Senate, where Brown’s insouciant handling of the scandal is making his 38 colleagues increasingly uncomfortable. Historically the Senate, unlike the House, does not air its troubles in public. Senators show great respect and deference to one another, even if they don’t always agree.
Brown obviously is counting on that gentlemanly tradition to shield him from serious sanctions, despite the appalling facts of his two convictions: He hit his longtime girlfriend in a New Orleans hotel room and bit his wife in their family home in Geismar.
In relying on the Senate’s cloak of collegiality, Brown overlooks the second half of the Upper Chamber’s unwritten rule of mutual respect and deference: While a senator does not throw a colleague under the bus, he also does not ask his colleagues to stand in front of a firing squad just so he can dodge a bullet.
That Brown does not know this is clear from his latest attempt to avoid expulsion. Sources say he has offered to accept a six-month “suspension,” during which time he would not appear at the Capitol, at his district office or anywhere else in any official capacity. He also would donate a year’s pay to one or more women’s advocacy groups and spend at least 30 days at an inpatient alcohol and drug abuse facility, with follow-up treatment as deemed necessary by a physician.
This is where Brown pushes his colleagues’ tolerance beyond the pale. A judge recently sentenced him to 30 days in jail and ordered him to do 64 hours of community service and participate in a domestic violence program — then suspended all but two days of Brown’s jail time.
That, folks, is a slap on the wrist, which hurts a lot less than a punch or a bite from a drunken Brown.
If the Senate accepts Brown’s proffer, it effectively would abandon its long tradition of decorum and ignore the needs of Brown’s constituents, who would be without a senator for a very critical six months.
A better solution would be to expel Brown, let him put himself into inpatient treatment — and demand that he fulfill all the other terms of his proposed redemption narrative on his own time (and his own dime).