Lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser is crying foul over a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleging he ordered Plaquemines Parish employees to do work on private property.
“It’s absurd,” said Nungesser, who was parish president until January. “This is another ploy by the bad people, another smoke screen.” He called the allegations “lies.”
“I didn’t order anybody to do anything,” he said.
Nungesser on Friday questioned the timing of the lawsuit so close to the Oct. 24 election. He is one of four candidates seeking the No. 2 job in state government.
John Young’s campaign, one of Nungesser’s opponents, sent The Advocate a copy of the civil lawsuit filed in 25th Judicial District Court in Plaquemines Parish. Nungesser said Friday afternoon that he had not yet been served with the papers.
The lawsuit alleges that Nungesser directed work be done on two private roads in the parish as well as culvert work on a piece of private property.
Nungesser suggested some of his detractors are behind the move, specifically naming Benny Rousselle, a former Plaquemines Parish president and current councilman. Rousselle is supporting Young, who is the Jefferson Parish president.
“It’s unbelievable what lengths they are going to,” Nungesser said.
Nungesser and Young — both Republicans — have stepped up attacks on each other in recent days with polling showing that one of them may not make a runoff spot because of Democratic Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden in the race. The other candidate is state Sen. Elbert Guillory, an Opelousas Republican.
Rousselle denied any involvement. “The first time I saw it was when the administration filed it,” said Rousselle, who blames Nungesser for the parish’s troubled finances.
“I had no clue about it. It was a total surprise,” Young said. “I haven’t even read it.”
“I don’t think Plaquemines Parish government is going to file a lawsuit because of me,” Young said.
Assistant parish attorney Shane Landry said Parish President Amos Cormier Jr. authorized the lawsuit.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we filed the lawsuit so we could preserve the parish rights,” Landry said. The alleged “misappropriation of public property and services” occurred in late 2014, he said, and time was running out for filing a lawsuit and recovering losses.
Landry said Cormier’s new Heavy Equipment Department head noticed some asphalt and limestone were missing when he did an inventory upon assuming the job and launched an investigation.
“We just found out about it last month and started trying to verify as much as we can,” Landry said.
Nungesser said he has been in touch with the parish attorney, who was out of state and knew nothing about the lawsuit’s filing.