GONZALES — A state district judge on Monday rejected the Louisiana Board of Ethics’ challenge to the candidacy of Ascension Parish Councilman Travis Turner over an unpaid fee for a late campaign finance disclosure report.
The board, which oversees campaign finance for municipal, parish and state elected officials, claimed in a lawsuit that Turner falsely certified, when he qualified Sept. 8 for the Oct. 24 election, that he owed no campaign finance fees.
He in fact owed $320 for a past-due 2014 report on his 2011 Parish Council campaign, the board suits says. Board attorneys were seeking to have Turner disqualified from running for the Parish Council District 3 seat in the Oct. 24 election.
Turner, a Democrat, was elected Sept. 10 to a second term in the Gonzales- and Geismar-area district after he drew no opponents.
Judge Tess Stromberg, of the 23rd Judicial District, ruled for Turner.
In a later interview Monday, Turner said he had mailed on Sept. 4 a $200 fee for a late personal financial disclosure report and did not realize he also owed $320 for the 2014 campaign finance report.
Turner acknowledged he had received a notice about the $320 fee but had also received notices about the $200 fee around the same time and believed they resulted from the same overdue report.
“Why would I pay the $200 fine and not the $320?” Turner said.
He said when he realized he also owed $320 for the 2014 report — after the Board of Ethics challenge was filed Sept. 17 — someone from his firm delivered the payment for that fee the next day.
Turner’s father, Alvin Turner Jr., is a longtime judge in the 23rd Judicial District, which encompasses Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes. He holds the Division E seat. Stromberg is in Division C.
Attorneys for the board told Stromberg they planned an appeal of her ruling.
They later referred questions to Kathleen Allen, state ethics administrator.
She could not be reached for comment late Monday afternoon.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.