John F. Schwegmann
|John F. Schwegmann|
|Louisiana Public Service Commissioner from District 1 (New Orleans suburbs)|
January 1, 1981 – December 31, 1996
|Preceded by||John Gerald Schwegmann, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Jack Arthuer "Jay" Blossman, Jr.|
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
|Political party||Democratic Party, later Independent|
|Spouse(s)||Melinda B. Schwegmann (born 1946)|
|Children||John Guy Schwegmann, Heidi Schwegmann, and Laurie D. Schwegmann|
John F. Schwegmann (born 1945) is a Metairie businessman, who was elected as a Democrat to the Louisiana Public Service Commission in 1981 to succeed his father, John G. Schwegmann. In 2002, Schwegmann declared himself an independent. He served for 15 years on the PSC, the public body which regulates rates of utilities and motor carriers. In 1996, however, he was unseated by the young Covington (St. Tammany Parish) Republican Jack Arthur "Jay" Blossman, Jr.
Early years and family
Schwegmann was born to John G. Schwegmann, Jr. (1911–1995), and his first wife, the former Mary Elizabeth Geisenheimer (1917–1994). His parents divorced when he was a toddler, and he was reared primarily with his younger, developmentally-challenged brother, Guy Schwegmann. The first Mrs. Schwegmann was also close to her ex-husband's daughter by the second marriage to the former Melba Margaret Wolfe (1926–1994). Margie Schwegmann Brown is hence a half sister of John F. Schwegmann, but the siblings have been at odds since the sale of the Schwegmann supermarket chain in 1996.
John F. Schwegmann is married to Melinda B. Schwegmann, a former Louisiana lieutenant governor (1992–1996) and a former state representative from Orleans Parish (1997–2004). They have three children, John Guy Schwegmann, Heidi Schwegmann, and Laurie D. Schwegmann, and two grandchildren.
Collapse of the Schwegmann empire
The sale of the Metairie-based Schwegmann chain had a big impact on the economy of New Orleans as well as on the Schwegmann family personally. The company ceased to exist within a year of founder John G. Schwegmann's death. John F. Schwegmann denied responsibility for the sale of the company. He compared his situation to "no good deed" going "unpunished." Margie Schwegmann Brown and 200 retired Schwegmann employees launched separate lawsuits against John F. Schwegmann in the years after the company's demise. Each won multimillion-dollar judgments against him.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed with the Louisiana state appeals court and held that John F. Schwegmann failed to "administer the trust for the best interest of the beneficiary [his half-sister], and as such was personally liable for the losses sustained by the trust. . . . [Schwegmann] failed to administer, segregate, and protect trust funds, failed to account annually to the trust beneficiary . . . and failed to distribute the trust funds to the beneficiary when he learned that the partnership managing the family business was in financial trouble, and made loans to himself through the family business by using trust funds."
It was the adverse publicity over the turmoil surrounding the management of the Schwegmann companies that many believe contributed to John F. Schwegmann's defeat in the District 1 PSC race in 1996. In that race, Blossman (born 1964) polled 133,455 votes (55 percent) to Schwegmann's 108,957 (45 percent).
Failed political comeback attempts
In 1998, John F. Schwegmann sought a comeback in the neighboring, predominantly black, District 3 seat on the PSC formerly represented by Louis Lambert. Schwegmann, still a Democrat, ran second in the jungle primary to incumbent Democrat Irma Muse Dixon. Schwegmann polled 29,619 votes (31 percent) to Dixon's 42,911 (45 percent. A third candidate, Democrat Bernard L. Charbonnet, Jr., held the remaining 23,322 votes (24 percent). In the general election Dixon defeated Schwegmann by a large margin: 124,921 votes (70 percent) to Schwegmann's 53,420 ballots (30 percent). She is the first African-American member of the PSC.
Blossman defeated John F. Schwegmann again in 2002, 104,963 votes (68 percent) to 49,643 ballots (32 percent). It was in the October 2002 primary that Schwegmann was first listed as an "independent" or officially "no party" on the Louisiana ballot.
Schwegmann thereafter ran in a June 2005 special election for the state senate seat vacated earlier by the death of popular veteran Republican John J. Hainkel, but he failed to gain a runoff berth. The seat is outside Schwegmann's domicile. He polled only 252 votes (1 percent). Two Republican women, Diane Winston and Julie Quinn went into the second round of balloting, and Quinn emerged the winner, 51-49 percent.
Schwegmann has lost four consecutive elections in the past decade, and Melinda Schwegmann has lost the last two of her three statewide races.
John G. Schwegmann (D)
|Louisiana Public Service Commissioner (District I)
John F. Schwegmann (D)
Jack Arthur "Jay" Blossman, Jr., (R)