Leaders behind the proposed city of St. George called the Registrar of Voters’ office corrupt in a post on their official website, in the wake of a state judge’s decision to toss their lawsuit.
The post, titled “A Corrupt Count: You Can’t Challenge the ROV,” also stated that Registrar Steve Raborn defied advice from the Attorney General’s office. The post said the Attorney General’s office told the registrar to make corrections to the petition that were pointed out by St. George leaders which would have resulted in the petition moving forward to an election.
Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said they could not say whether their office weighed in on the high stakes debate. The Attorney General is the top legal adviser in the state, and has provided legal representation to the Registrar’s Office in the past.
“Any legal advice that our office provides to public officials is privileged and confidential,” he said in an email.
Raborn’s attorney Celia Cangelosi did not respond to an email and a phone call requesting comment about what the Attorney General’s office may have advised.
Raborn effectively put an end to a 21-month effort to create the city of St. George when he declared in June that the petition was short 71 signatures necessary to call an election. The failure of the petition means that St. George can’t start another effort for two years.
But St. George leaders say the registrar made errors in their count that, if corrected, would have yielded a result in their favor. They filed a lawsuit to that end, which was tossed out of state court.
Last week, St. George posted a message to their website, lamenting the Registrar’s alleged defiance.
“After being confronted with our simple and informal request that he correct his mistakes, the Registrar chose not to take advice from the Attorney General, their normal legal council, and hired special counsel. After advice from special council, the Registrar took the position that he was not allowed to correct ANY errors once his determination had been made. He did not dispute the fact that errors had been made. He just said that he couldn’t fix them. There is no law to support this illogical position, so we filed a lawsuit, which simply asked the Court to require the Registrar to correct his mistakes.”
Asked how St. George leaders knew the Attorney General’s office advised the Registrar, attorney Daniel Redmann noted they were making some assumptions based on the fact that the Registrar had previously been legally represented by the Attorney General and then suddenly changed to an outside attorney.
“My understanding is that we asked the Registrar to correct his errors on 6/22 and 6/23 and we expected him to seek the AG’s opinion on the issue (who, to our knowledge, was advising the ROV during the entire signature verification process as mandated by La. R.S. 18:64) and that, after we brought errors to his attention, the Registrar chose not to have the AG’s advice as reflected by his retention of special counsel,” Redmann said in an email.
” I can’t say that the Registrar rejected the AG’s advice or whether the AG even gave any advice on the subject matter raised by our 6/22 and 6/23 letters, but it is clear that the Registrar chose to have the advice of another attorney instead of the AG before he sent us a letter advising that he would not correct any errors,” he added.