At-large Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts filed a suit Tuesday seeking to force one of his two challengers in the Oct. 24 primary to pull a pair of political commercials that accuse Roberts of not paying his taxes.
Roberts sued Louis Congemi, the former Kenner mayor and ex-Jefferson Parish councilman, in 24th Judicial District Court, claiming the commercials break state election laws that prohibit candidates from making statements about opponents that they know — or should know — are false.
The commercials in question aired on television and were posted on Facebook after Roberts was accused last month in a lawsuit of signing up to run for another term without having filed several necessary state income tax returns.
That lawsuit, which sought to disqualify Roberts from his bid for re-election, was dismissed after a judge heard testimony that the councilman mailed his returns shortly before signing up to run and that the state Department of Revenue had received those documents.
“(Congemi’s) commercials are entirely bogus, have no factual substance and are a perpetuation of lies already disproven a few weeks ago,” said Roberts, noting he was owed refunds on his tax returns. “It is shameful he continues to distort facts for the purpose of running for office.”
Congemi’s campaign consultant, Greg Buisson, said in a text message, “We stand by our facts.”
Before the lawsuit seeking to disqualify Roberts was dismissed, he testified that he mailed his 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 state income tax returns on Sept. 9, a short time before he signed up to run for re-election. He said he asked for an extension to file his 2014 return, and a state Department of Revenue official testified that her agency received the 2010-13 tax forms on Sept. 14.
Nonetheless, the narrator of one of Congemi’s commercials says, among other things, “Yes, Councilman Chris, you are paid by taxpayers. But taxes? You don’t pay no stinking taxes.”
The other commercial says, “Roberts didn’t pay income taxes in 2010 or 2011 or 2012. He didn’t file for extensions or pay taxes in 2013 or ’14. Five years of not paying taxes.”
Roberts’ lawsuit was assigned to Judge Scott Schlegel.
The third candidate in the race for Roberts’ seat is Jimmy Lawson, also a former Parish Council member.