Businessman Sidney Torres has made good on his threat to go after mayoral candidate Desiree Charbonnet because she skipped a forum hosted by his political action committee.
Ads featuring Torres and shots of Charbonnet's empty podium first appeared during Friday night newscasts and continued during the Saints game Sunday morning.
In the spots, paid for by Torres' Voice of the People political action committee, Torres says her decision not to address the voters at the forum is "a disturbing warning sign."
"If Desiree Charbonnet is not fit to answer the questions of Peabody and Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, how can she be fit to answer the challenges ahead for New Orleans?" Torres says in the ad.
Torres, who gained local fame collecting trash in the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina and later by organizing a special police patrol in the same neighborhood, considered running for mayor himself but in the end did not.
The spat between Torres and Charbonnet, a former Municipal Court judge who is one of the three top contenders in the mayoral field, began when Charbonnet made a last-minute decision to pull out of a televised forum hosted last week by Torres' PAC.
Charbonnet's campaign said she decided not to take part because reporters from two local TV stations, WVUE and WDSU, also pulled out, citing ethical concerns about participating in a forum hosted by a political group.
The forum went on without her, and Torres gave each of the three other candidates who participated a chance to slam her.
After the event, Torres said he planned to spend $100,000 on ads running through the Oct. 14 primary targeting Charbonnet. If she makes it to the Nov. 18 runoff, the ads will continue until then, he said.