Francis C. Thompson

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Francis Coleman Thompson
Member of the Louisiana Senate
from the 34th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
2008
Preceded by Charles Jones
Constituency Portions of Concordia, East Carroll, Madison, Richland, and Tensas parishes in northeastern Louisiana
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 19th district
In office
1975–2008
Preceded by Benny Gay Christian
Succeeded by Charles "Bubba" Chaney
Constituency Portions of East Carroll, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland, and West Carroll parishes
Personal details
Born (1941-10-29) October 29, 1941 (age 73)
Place of birth missing
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marilyn Bryant Thompson
Children Three children, including Francis Todd Thompson and Brant L. Thompson
Residence Delhi, Louisiana
Alma mater Delhi High School

Louisiana Tech University
University of Louisiana at Monroe

Occupation Real estate developer
Religion Presbyterian

Francis Coleman Thompson (born October 29, 1941)[1] is a wealthy developer from Delhi in Richland Parish, Louisiana, U.S., where he served as a senior Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. He served continuously from 1975 until 2007. Because of state term limits, Thompson was ineligible to have sought a ninth four-year term in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007.

Instead, Thompson was elected outright over two fellow Democrats to the District 34 seat in the Louisiana State Senate vacated by the also term-limited Charles Jones (born 1950) of Monroe. Thompson received 13,763 votes (51 percent) to 10,937 (42 percent) for African-American State Representative Willie Hunter, Jr., of Monroe and 2,113 (8 percent) for Paxton J. Branch.[2] Ten days after he vacated the seat to Thompson, Charles Jones was charged with two counts of making and subscribing a false federal income tax return and one count of tax evasion.[3]

Hunter charged irregularities in the primary election in part on grounds that certain Thompson supporters in heavily black East Carroll Parish distributed food packages to the poor with instructions that they should vote for Francis Thompson to maintain such assistance.[4]

In addition to his own Richland Parish, Thompson's House district included all or portions of East Carroll, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, and West Carroll parishes in northeast Louisiana. His Senate district includes parts of Concordia, East Carroll, Madison, Ouachita, Richland, and Tensas parishes.

Early years and education[edit]

Thompson graduated from Delhi High School in 1959. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston in Lincoln Parish. He also procured an Ed.D. degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then Northeast Louisiana University). Thompson was a teacher from 1963 to 1965, but he vacated the classroom to become vice president of a manufacturing company from 1965 to 1972. Later, he returned to the classroom as a ULM assistant professor of education.[1]

From 1968 to 1975, Thompson was an elected member of the Richland Parish School Board.[1] He won a special election in 1975 to fill the House seat vacated by the resignation of Democrat Benny Gay Christian (1925–1982),[5] who had served in the state House since 1964. Later in the year, Thompson won a full term in the seat, which in time became the single-member District 19. Prior to his legislative years, Thompson worked in Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Department of Education under Superintendent Louis J. Michot from 1974 to 1975. He was a member of the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement from 1973 to 1974. Thompson is a former member of the Southern Regional Education Board and the Education Commission of the States. He has been active in the Retarded Children's Association and the Louisiana Mental Health Drug Advisory Council. He is a member of the Masonic lodge and the Lions Club.

Thompson is married to the former Marilyn Bryant[1] (born October 6, 1944). The couple lives at 456 Robin Hood Lane in Delhi. They have three children, including sons Francis Todd Thompson (born ca. 1963) of Baton Rouge and Brant L. Thompson (born April 1, 1965 of Delhi.[6] Thompson is Presbyterian.

Interest in agriculture[edit]

In 2000, Thompson was named chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.[7] In 2003, he authored the "Master Farmer" program, which the legislature approved without dissent. The program was developed by the Louisiana State University Agriculture Center and sponsored by the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation. It is an environmental education program designed to help farmers and ranchers identify and adopt best management practices to improve water quality in lakes, streams and bayous. It involves classroom instruction, field days and implementation of farm-specific conservation plans to maximize productivity while minimizing environmental impacts. Thompson's model program has been proposed for national acceptance.[8]

Poverty Point case[edit]

Part of the shoreline of Poverty Point Reservoir, a large lake near Delhi, Louisiana

During his long legislative career, Thompson worked successfully to procure state funding for Poverty Point Reservoir, an attractive 3,000-acre (12 km2) lake just north of Delhi that was completed in 2001. The lake was since been partly converted to Poverty Point Reservoir State Park. Thompson's brother, Michael L. "Mike" Thompson (born February 1, 1949) of Delhi is the former executive director of the reservoir district. On June 26, 2008, Mike Thompson along with District Attorney William R. "Billy" Coenen (born July 1, 1947) of the Fifth Judicial District and a resident of Rayville[6] and engineer Terry Denmon of Monroe were indicted by a federal grand jury in Shreveport for having conspired secretly to purchase land along what would become Poverty Point Reservoir and then selling the land at an elevated price.[9] The trio is each charged with one count of conspiracy and eight counts of mail fraud. Mike Thompson is also under indictment for alleged violations of the Hobbs Act. Thompson was accused of having used district employees to perform personal work for him at the lake.[10]

According to the indictment, Thompson, Coenen, and Denmon bought a 5-acre (20,000 m2) tract of land on what would later form the shores of the reservoir for $16,800. They reportedly used a nominee purchaser to hide their interest. Subsequently, Thompson used his position as executive director to have trees removed from the property. According to the indictment, Thompson and Denmon (born May 15, 1944),[6] whose engineering firm was contracted to work for the district, had the property excavated. The tract was subdivided, and six of the eight lots sold for a total of $250,000. Coenen was implicated through his role as attorney for the Poverty Point District as well as being district attorney.[10]

Other political developments[edit]

In 1996, Thompson ran for the open Fifth District seat in the United States House of Representatives. He polled 50,144 votes (28 percent) and went into a general election with the Republican ophthalmologist John Cooksey of Monroe, who led in the jungle primary with 60,853 ballots (34 percent). Former U.S. Representative Clyde C. Holloway of Rapides Parish trailed in third place with 48,226 (27 percent).[11] Holloway then endorsed Cooksey, who defeated Thompson by a comfortable margin. Cooksey received 135,990 votes (58 percent) to the more liberal Thompson's 97,363 (42 percent).[12] Cooksey served three terms before leaving the U.S. House early in 2003. Cooksey's campaign manager, Lee Fletcher, was thereafter named as his chief of staff. Fletcher tried to win the House seat himself in 2002 but lost to Democrat (later Republican) Rodney Alexander.

Though he is a Democrat, Thompson broke party ranks in the 2003 gubernatorial primary to support Republican candidate Hunt Downer of Houma, a former state House Speaker, who finished sixth in the balloting though he had the support of a cross-section of state legislators from both parties.

In 2005, Francis Thompson was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "House District 19". enlou.com. Retrieved January 2, 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Louisiana election returns, October 20, 2007". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved January 2, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ Monroe News Star, January 25, 2008
  4. ^ Monroe News Star, November 10, 2007
  5. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.com. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c Net Detective, People Search
  7. ^ "Rep. Thompson to Head Agriculture Committee". house.legis.state.la.us. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  8. ^ ""Master Farmer program cited as good example for nation", November 12, 2004". deltafarmpress.com. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 
  9. ^ "How Much Better Can Louisiana Politics Get?". louisianaconservative.com. Retrieved January 5, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b Coenen, Denmon, Thompson indicted in mail fraud | thenewsstar.com | The News Star
  11. ^ "Louisiana election returns, September 21, 1996". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Louisiana election returns, November 5, 1996". sos.louisiana.gov. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". cityofwinnfield.com. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Louisiana Senate
Preceded by
Charles Jones
Louisiana State Senator (District 19)

Francis Coleman Thompson
2008–

Succeeded by
Incumbent
Louisiana House of Representatives
Preceded by
Benny Gay Christian
Louisiana State Representative from District 19

Francis Coleman Thompson
1975–2008

Succeeded by
Charles "Bubba" Chaney