An attorney for Republican activist Scott Wilfong told a judge Monday he wants to know what evidence the state Board of Ethics had in 2009 when it accused him of violating campaign finance laws in connection with his role in the circulation of an anti-Kip Holden flier during the 2008 mayoral race.
The Ethics Board filed charges against Wilfong in August 2009, then dropped them in November 2010. Wilfong sued the board in January 2011.
State District Judge Tim Kelley told Wilfong’s attorney, Chris Alexander, that the motion was premature because Alexander had not exhausted all of his avenues to get the information.
Wilfong’s lawsuit contends the board engaged in a “malicious prosecution” of him. He is seeking damages.
Alexander told Kelley during a hearing in the civil case Monday that he wants to take the deposition of former Ethics Board attorney Alissa Ardoin. Alexander said he deposed Ethics Board investigator Robin Gremillion and was told Ardoin is the person with knowledge of exactly what evidence the board had to justify prosecuting Wilfong.
“We’re not seeking privileged information,” Alexander replied when Kelley raised the issue of attorney-client privilege between Ardoin and Gremillion.
Alexander said it does not matter whom he interviews at the Ethics Board, as long as that person knows what evidence the board had in its possession when Wilfong was charged.
“What was your evidence? What did you have?’’ Alexander argued. “I just don’t see it.”
Ethics Board attorney Amy Groves Lowe countered that Alexander’s motion to subpoena a lawyer in a civil case is premature because he has not taken the depositions of any Ethics Board members.
“Not one of them has been deposed,” she told the judge.
Lowe also argued that an attorney-client privilege does exist between Ardoin and Gremillion.
“I don’t think he needs to know what those communications were,” Lowe said. “If they want to know what Ardoin told the board, they can ask the board.”
Kelley denied Alexander’s motion to subpoena Ardoin, agreeing with Lowe that Alexander can question Ethics Board members.
“You’ve not exhausted all of your alternatives,” Kelley told Alexander.
The judge did leave the door open for Alexander to re-urge his motion at a later date.
Alexander said afterward it may not be necessary to depose Ardoin “depending upon what the board members have to offer.”
“We are moving forward with the depositions of every board member who voted to prosecute and we’re going to ask them point blank, ‘Is this what you relied on to publicly embarrass an American citizen for three years?’ ” he said outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse.
Alexander said Lowe essentially stipulated on the record Monday that the board has produced all of the evidence against Wilfong upon which a three-year prosecution was based.
“If that is the case, they have serious evidentiary problems,” he said.
The flier circulated during the 2008 mayor’s race accused Holden of having an extramarital affair. Holden, a Democrat, has denied those allegations.
The flier was distributed under a false name and appeared in thousands of mailboxes. Former Metro Councilman Darrell Glasper later acknowledged paying for the flier.
The Ethics Board had charged that Wilfong and his company, Capital Business Services LLC, may have violated state campaign finance law on three occasions when he failed to disclose expenditures in connection with the flier.
When the charges were dismissed, Ethics Board Chairman Frank Simoneaux said the board’s investigation showed Wilfong did not pay for the fliers. Instead, the work was paid for by former Glasper, he said.
Wilfong had refused to identify who paid him to print and circulate the mailer