A challenge to the candidacy of a man running for St. Tammany Parish assessor fizzled before it started Monday when the lawyer who filed the challenge moved to dismiss it before court arguments on it began.
Mandeville lawyer Matthew Monson — no stranger to candidate challenges —filed the challenge against Frank B. “Chip” Bankston, who is running to unseat one-term incumbent Louis Fitzmorris.
Monson said Bankston hadn’t lived in St. Tammany for the required two years. To support his claim, he provided a series of printouts from the Louisiana State Bar Association on which Bankston provided various addresses in Colorado, Louisiana and Mississippi, labeling them at various times as work and home addresses.
The challenge was set to be heard in 22nd Judicial District Court Judge William Knight’s court, but Monson and Bankston were given 30 minutes to huddle before the hearing in order to check documents to see if the hearing could be expedited.
When they went back before the judge, Monson asked Knight to dismiss the challenge. Afterward, he said that even though he wasn’t convinced Bankston had lived in the state for the required two years, he felt Bankston could meet the legal requirement to fend off a challenge.
Monson said he reached out to Bankston before he filed the challenge but that Bankston never responded.
Bankston is the lone challenger to Fitzmorris for the assessor’s job, and a Fitzmorris staffer kept a close eye on Monday’s hearing.
Later, Fitzmorris issued a statement saying that Monson had proved that Bankston was not a lifelong resident of St. Tammany. He also accused Bankston of being allied with former assessor Patricia Schwarz Core, who is under federal investigation.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.