Richard Webster Leche 1936-1939
Born: May 15, 1898 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Religious Affiliation: Episcopalian
Education: Warren Easton H.S., Loyola Law School
Career Prior to Term: State Judge
How He Became Governor: Elected in 1936
Career after Term: Sent to prision for misusing state funds and property; later pardoned by President Harry S. Truman
Died: February 22, 1965 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Richard W. Leche won the battle to succeed Huey Long as the leader of the Long faction after Huey's assassination. He won the Democratic primary by a 3 to 1 margin and proceeded to honor his statement, "When I took the oath of office, I didn't take any vow of poverty."
Leche validated Huey's prediction that his underlings would get in trouble without him around to control them. He and other state officials allegedly developed a scheme to sell trucks to the Highway Department. This constituted mail fraud and Leche received 10 years in Federal prison. He served five years, was pardoned, and after his release, became a lobbyist and a lawyer.
As governor, Leche retreated from some Long positions, exemplified in his pro-business stance of offering a 10 year property tax exemption for new businesses and in creating a Department of Commerce and Industry. He also backed a one percent sales tax, a tax Long had consistently opposed.
Leche did continue the highway, bridge and hospital construction plans Long had begun, but will be unfortunately remembered as the only Louisiana governor to serve a prison sentence. Leche died in New Orleans in 1965.