An anonymous letter attacking Mayor Donald Villere is roiling Mandeville’s already intense mayor’s race, with both candidates decrying the missive and asking the author to come forward.
The letter, which apparently went to a handful of homes in the Lakewood Heights neighborhood and along Hutchinson Street, was addressed “Dear Neighbor” and urged voters to “take a closer look at Don’s character before you pull the lever.”
The letter calls out Villere for being cited for public urination on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway last month, as well as his attempts to have officials keep it quiet. It also brings up ethics charges, which were recently tossed out, claiming Villere made false statements about his opponent in the 2010 mayoral race. The Louisiana Ethics Board is appealing.
In addition, the single-page, typed communique included copies of a column about the Causeway incident that ran in The New Orleans Advocate and a page from the ethics charges against Villere.
The letters began appearing over the weekend.
Villere called the letter a “political smear campaign” and said it should not be trusted because it was anonymous. By not signing the letter, the author violated state ethics laws, Villere said.
“These tactics are a throwback to old time Louisiana politics,” Villere said in a statement Tuesday. “They are not the activity launched by a campaign that believes it is winning.”
He also called on Councilman Rick Danielson — Villere’s lone opponent — to denounce the tactics and investigate “who in his camp is guilty” of sending the letters.
Danielson had already done so, issuing a statement late Monday that denied any connection to the letter.
“My campaign has had nothing to do with this item,” Danielson said in a statement. He said his campaign materials would always contain the required legal disclaimers.
“I want whoever is behind these letters to step up and claim responsibility,” Danielson said.
The animus between the two has been long-running and is likely to peak during in the run up to election day on March 5.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter @faimon.