Less than two months away from a crucial deadline, organizers of the effort to force a recall election against Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni have started mailing their petition to local households, stepping up the push to collect the many thousands of signatures they still need.
The Recall Yenni campaign on Wednesday sent out an election-style mailer petition to a select number of parish households on both sides of the river, spokeswoman Karen Carvin said.
Those homes — which the campaign chose after consulting demographic data — began receiving the mailer Thursday.
The mailer lists various details related to the scandal that has consumed the parish president's administration for months, declaring that "Mike Yenni is bad for Jefferson Parish."
It gives recipients — as well as those who live with or near them — the option of signing an attached copy of the recall petition and sending it back, with the return postage paid.
Depending on the response, the Recall Yenni campaign could send its mailer to a larger number of homes, Carvin said.
The mail effort has been in the works since at least mid-November, but Recall Yenni campaign officials at the time said they wanted approval from state Attorney General Jeff Landry's office before launching it.
Carvin said Thursday they were told such an effort could not receive pre-approval from the AG's Office. The campaign was told the office would opine on the legality of the mailing effort only if someone made an issue of it, Carvin said.
Nonetheless, Carvin said the campaign is confident it is acting lawfully, given that the copy of the petition included in the mail piece is identical to the one on file with Secretary of State Tom Schedler's office.
"I don't know how we can make it easier for people to sign this aside from actually putting it inside their homes," Carvin said.
The controversy began in late September, when WWL-TV reported that Yenni had sent sexually explicit texts to a 17-year-old youth in 2015 while he was mayor of Kenner and was running for the office he now holds.
Yenni apologized for sending what he has dubbed "improper texts." But he said he would ignore calls from nearly every elected official in the parish to resign, prompting attorney Robert Evans III to file the recall petition in early October.
Three months ago, Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni broke with 12 years of tradition and…
The campaign has until April 6 to collect the roughly 90,000 signatures — one third of Jefferson Parish's 270,000 registered voters — that it would take to force a referendum on whether Yenni should remain in office.
Campaign officials have said they already have more signatures than the 45,823 voters who cast ballots for Yenni in the October 2015 parish president's election. But they appear to be well short of their ultimate goal, some seven weeks away from the deadline.
Besides the mailer, Carvin said, Recall Yenni volunteers will seek signatures along parade routes as the Carnival season in Jefferson Parish kicks into full swing Friday. There also will be volunteers working to collect signatures at Metairie's Family Gras music festival Friday through Sunday.
Until now, campaign volunteers have largely been collecting signatures by knocking on doors and setting up tables at events. A handful of local businesses also have invited visitors to sign copies of the petition.
Yenni has pledged to accept the outcome of the recall effort, though he has repeatedly asked residents to forgive him over the texting scandal.
On Thursday, he said the recall campaign's mailer was "filled with lies and distortions."
"They are getting the message they want out there, but they are not getting the correct message out there," Yenni said. "They're doing a recall with lies and innuendos."