Murphy J. Painter, the former state Alcohol and Tobacco Control commissioner, dropped out of the Ascension Parish sheriff’s race Monday after qualifying Thursday, the state commissioner of elections said.
A second challenger in the race against incumbent Sheriff Jeff Wiley, Louis Boudreaux, withdrew his name last week after qualifying to run for the job, Commissioner of Elections Angie Rogers said.
Because both men withdrew their names, Wiley will remain the sheriff without opposition and there will be no election for that office, Rogers said.
Painter said in a prepared statement he withdrew after much consideration because it was not the right time for him to enter into a race for public office.
“I am very qualified to be sheriff and there are no issues in my past or pending that disqualify me from holding any public office,” Painter said in the statement.
“However, I have decided the negative effects and the brutality of a political race … outweigh the possible benefits that such a race would invoke. ...”
Wiley said Monday he didn’t have any comment about Painter’s decision to withdraw, but said he’s happy “to continue with the work ahead to be the sheriff of the fastest growing parish in the state.”
This will be Wiley’s fifth term as sheriff.
He was unopposed in the 2003 and 2007 elections. Wiley has been sheriff since 1996.
Painter, who served as an Ascension Parish sheriff’s chief criminal deputy in the 1980s, faces the threat of criminal prosecution as the result of a state inspector general’s report released in February.
The report alleges Painter used his state commissioner’s post to illegally obtain information through the use of the state’s databases on judges, the governor’s staff, U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s wife and others more than 1,000 times during a five-year period.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said last week it is his understanding federal prosecutors are reviewing the report as a basis for federal prosecution.
“If they decide to prosecute, I will defer to them,” Moore said. “If not, I will then prosecute the case on the state level.”
Painter responded last week to Moore’s comments by declaring he is not aware of any state or federal charges being contemplated against him.
In August 2010, Painter was sued by his former administrative assistant, Kelli Suire, who accused him of sexually harassing and stalking her.
Suire alleged in the lawsuit that Painter used the National Crime Information Center database to search for personal information on her and her attorney, Jill Craft.
Painter has denied those allegations.
Painter’s former employer, the state Department of Revenue, settled that suit and several other claims last month. The department oversees ATC.
Last month, Painter filed suit against ATC and the Governor’s Office in state court, claiming he was wrongfully terminated in August 2010.
Painter, who wants to be reinstated as the ATC commissioner, claims he was fired because he refused to grant a liquor license for an entertainment square outside the Louisiana Superdome.
The lawsuit is in its preliminary stages in 19th Judicial District Court.