Former Metro Councilman Darrell Glasper, who paid for a flier during the 2008 mayoral race that accused Mayor-President Kip Holden of having an adulterous affair, is suing Holden for defamation based on the mayor’s responses to the flier.
Holden’s attorney, Mary Olive Pierson, called the lawsuit “laughable.’’
“All of this speech (by the mayor) is protected (through the First Amendment), just like Mr. Glasper’s was,’’ she said Thursday.
Glasper’s attorney, Chris Alexander, said he disagrees with Pierson about Holden’s speech.
“Our legal position on the speech issue is laid out fully in the petition. Anybody who wants to can read it. We feel it is very compelling,’’ he said.
The suit alleges Holden acted with reckless disregard for the truth. The suit also contends Glasper’s flier “reported only publicly-available and demonstrably true facts.’’
The flier accused Holden of engaging in an extramarital affair with a woman before he was severely beaten by her husband.
Holden has denied those allegations.
“In lieu of actually mounting a legitimate challenge to the flier’s allegations on its merits, Holden simply attacked the messenger — making repeated, scurrilous, malicious, and defamatory allegations against a private citizen,’’ Glasper’s suit alleges.
The suit claims ethics and criminal investigations into Glasper’s actions were “engendered, fostered, precipitated, initiated, and begun at the behest and direction of Holden.’’ The suit notes that the probes were ultimately dismissed.
“He’s just repeating a case that’s already been thrown out,’’ Holden said Thursday.
The suit was filed Wednesday in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge. Glasper is seeking damages.
In March, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said the allegations that Glasper helped spread scandalous rumors about Holden in 2008 were too old to pursue by the time they reached prosecutors in December.
The Louisiana Board of Ethics had referred a possible misdemeanor case against Glasper to Moore, who said the pursuit of any such allegations should have been initiated within two years of the Oct. 4, 2008, mayoral election. That is what state law requires, he said.
Glasper complains in his suit about Holden’s response to Moore’s decision.
“With the flier inquiry effectively at an end, Holden once again struck a defiant tone: ‘Somewhere, there needs to be a system of checks and balances established so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,’” the suit states, quoting the mayor’s comments published March 30 in The Advocate.
The suit also quotes Holden in the same article saying, “These were some of the most-egregious acts I’ve ever seen in any political campaign.’’
Glasper also complains in his suit about Holden’s remarks in an article published Nov. 20 in The Advocate, in which the mayor says Glasper and his associates were “out to destroy basically my family and those close to me.”
The article reported the Ethics Board’s decision to refer Glasper’s conduct to the District Attorney’s Office.
“Holden characterizes Glasper as being dishonest: ‘I hope this is a message not only to him and others … to run a race that’s fair and based on facts,’ ” the suit quotes the mayor in the November article.
“Holden disparages Glasper as being so nefarious and corrupt as to deserve heightened scrutiny from members of law enforcement: ‘Those people need to be kept in check,’ ’’ the suit further quotes the mayor in the article.
Alexander also represents Baton Rouge businessman and Republican activist Scott Wilfong, who sued the Ethics Board in January, claiming the board engaged in a “malicious prosecution’’ of him over his role in the circulation of the flier.
The ethics panel filed charges against Wilfong in August 2009, alleging he and his companies may have violated state campaign finance law when he failed to disclose expenditures in connection with the flier.
The board dismissed those charges in November after its probe showed Glasper, not Wilfong, paid for the fliers.
The flier appeared in thousands of mailboxes. It was distributed under a false name but eventually traced to Wilfong, who had refused to identify who paid him to print and circulate the mailer.
Pierson took delight in the fact that Glasper’s suit states the flier was paid for by Glasper and distributed at his direction.
“Finally Mr. Glasper has admitted under oath that he made a political expenditure in 2008 without a disclosure in violation of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act,’’ she said.
“It should have been disclosed. Instead, he lied, lied, lied,’’ Pierson added.
Alexander said the Ethics Board knew Glasper was responsible for the flier “well within the statute of limitations for prosecuting him.’’
“They let the statute of limitations run and never prosecuted him. Why?’’ he asked.
Glasper most recently served on the Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission and has been a Holden critic.
Glasper’s suit says Holden “successfully blocked’’ Glasper from reappointment as a BREC commissioner in early 2008.
The suit has been assigned to state District Judge William Morvant.