GONZALES — Ascension Parish Councilman Travis Turner is headed to a second, four-year term in office after the state Board of Ethics chose not to appeal a ruling denying its challenge to Turner’s candidacy.
The state’s top ethics watchdog had sought in a lawsuit Sept. 17 to disqualify Turner.
Turner filed papers Sept. 8 to qualify for re-election Oct. 24 to Council District 3 but had not paid a $320 fine for an overdue 2014 campaign finance report from his 2011 election campaign. When candidates qualify, they have to sign papers certifying they owe no campaign fines and fees.
Kathleen Allen, Ethics Board administrator, said Tuesday that the board did not appeal Judge Tess Stromberg’s ruling last week denying the board challenge.
Ethics attorneys had told Stromberg, a judge in the 23rd Judicial District Court, when she ruled Sept. 21 in Gonzales that they planned an appeal. Allen said Tuesday she could not say specifically why the board ended up not appealing.
“Those decisions are made by looking at the facts specific to each case,” Allen said.
Turner had contended his failure to pay the $320 fine was a mistake on his part because he had confused that fine with another $200 fine over another late report. He did pay the $200 fine days before qualifying.
He said he paid the $320 fine one day after he learned of the oversight through the Ethics Board’s suit.
Turner said Tuesday that he had not been informed of the board’s decision, but figured it wasn’t appealing since the deadline had passed. Under state law, elections challenges are on an accelerated timeline. The deadline to file a notice of appeal passed last week.
Turner, a Democrat, drew no opponents during qualifying earlier this month and is one of five people on the 11-member council who were re-elected Sept. 10 when qualifying ended for the fall election. Turner said he is happy to be back on the council.
“We’re going to move forward to make the parish the best parish it can be,” he said.
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