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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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District judge says councilman disqualified

District judge says councilman disqualified

A Lafourche Parish councilman representing District 5, covering Bayou Blue and Pointe-aux-Chenes along the Lafourche-Terrebonne border, who went unopposed in the Oct. 24 primary has been disqualified.

On Monday, a district judge ruled John Arnold, R-Gray, was disqualified because he falsely certified on his candidacy form that he did not owe any fines when he actually owed more than $5,000 in late fees to the Board of Ethics.

According to an objection to Arnold's candidacy filed by the Louisiana Board of Ethics, Arnold had $5,095 in outstanding fines relating to late submissions of personal financial statements.

Elected officials across the state are required to annually submit personal financial statements to the Board of Ethics.

According to the Daily Comet, Arnold said when he first became a councilman he did not know what he had to turn in and his forms were late. Subsequent financial statements were turned in late as he took care of personal business, and the fees piled up.

When he signed up to qualify earlier this month, Arnold said he thought the fines had been paid.
On Tuesday Arnold paid all of his outstanding fines to the Board of Ethics. He said he now plans to run for the special election next spring to fill the seat.

Lafourche Parish District Attorney Cam Morvant issued a legal opinion that said council members will have 10 days from the first of the year to call a special election as early as March 5 to select a representative for District 5.

Morvant said that until the person chosen by voters in the special election takes office, the council can appoint a qualified person, someone who is qualified to vote and has lived in the district for at least one year, to fill the seat.
The council has 30 days from the first of the year to appoint that person, and the appointee will be ineligible to run in the special election, he said.