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Sen. Robert Adley reflects on political career as it comes to an end

by Minden Press-Herald


After 40 years of public service, Sen. Robert Adley is stepping out of the political limelight.

A reception in his honor to say “thank you” will be at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21, at Northwest Louisiana Technical College.

“I’m one of those guys who never thought they would be in public service, and certainly not for 40 years,” Adley said of his time in Louisiana politics.

Adley began his career as a Bossier City Council in 1976 and joined at the state level in the House of Representatives in 1979, serving for 16 years until he ran for governor in 1995. After his unsuccessful bid for the governor’s mansion, he was elected to the Louisiana Senate and has been serving there ever since.

“The public promptly sent me home by popular demand,” he said of his governor’s bid. “Then the senate seat came open and I thought I’d never go back – but I did. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been a real honor. The people I have represented have been wonderful and they have been great people to represent.”

He says he feels much has been accomplished, particularly in this area, with the new technical school, the new Webster Council on Aging facility, among many other projects in Cotton Valley, Springhill, Sarepta, Ringgold, all over the district. However, there was one bill that he will never forget, he says.

“I had a really good friend,” he said. “He was a small business guy, and he had two or three employees in the oil and gas business. He got terminal cancer. He left the hospital and came to my office – and I mean he looked terrible – and he was so mad. The insurance company had cancelled his insurance while he was lying on his death bed.”

In Louisiana at that time, Adley recalled, health insurance companies could do that.

“He said, ‘You have to change this,’” he said. “He died, and in his name I came to Baton Rouge and passed it off the House floor, and it wasn’t any problem.”

It hit the Senate committee and it was killed.

“I was sitting at the witness table, and I said, ‘No, you’re not through,’” he recalled. “’I’m not going to get up from this table until you pass this bill.’”

He says they threatened to call security and the authorities to physically remove him from the room, and he told them he’d “scream and holler” about what the Senate committee had done until the entire state had heard it. The chairman adjourned the meeting and asked if Adley would meet with them in side chambers about what they could do. A few adjustments were made and the bill soon after became law.

He talked about the bill that taught him the most, he says. It was a two-year fight over regulations regarding horse racing. Every race track in Louisiana had a certain amount of race days and Louisiana Downs had less, he says. He introduced a bill to correct that issue and it met vehement opposition.

“I didn’t think it was going to be a problem, but it turned out to be a gosh-awful fight,” he said.

Adley says he has served under every governor since Dave Treen, including the governor he lost his bid against, Mike Foster.

“I’ve met tons of wonderful people all over the state and all over the world,” he said. “The difficult part, the part that I hate the most, is that if you’re not somewhat wealthy, you just can’t afford to serve. And I hate that. I wish there was some way that the average guy could go down there and experience that.”

Beginning in the oil and gas field in his 20s, he’s spent his entire business career in the industry, and has made a decent living, he said. Once he retires, he says he will probably remain in the industry, although not quite as heavily.

“Since the last session has ended, outside of the oil and gas consulting, we’re on the verge of full retirement, and I’m trying to get used to that,” he said. “You have to stay involved, and in our case, we have a lot invested in Louisiana – and I don’t mean money, I mean time and effort and love.”

He’s been married to his wife, Claudia, for 25 years, and he has one son, Dr. Brandon Adley, DVM, and one grandchild. He reiterated that he is everything Louisiana and he will now be able to spend more time rooting for his favorite home team, the LSU Tigers.

On his last day on the Senate floor, he was giving his closing speech, and he said in part, “I heard a preacher say when you have an extramarital affair, you ought to admit it and admit it publicly, so today on this floor in the Senate – with my wife sitting in the back of the chamber – I said, ‘I’m going to admit to you that I’ve had an extramarital affair, and let me tell you her name. Her name is Louisiana. I just fell in love with her, and I always have been in love with Louisiana.”

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