Former Kenner Mayor Louis Congemi will no longer run two television ads claiming incumbent Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, his opponent in the Oct. 24 election, has not paid all his taxes.
In return, Roberts will cease airing his commercial saying Congemi, who is also a former parish councilman, was at one point under federal investigation.
Those were among the terms of a consent judgement the two sides agreed to Monday in state district Judge Scott Schlegel’s court in Gretna.
The two sides negotiated for about two hours leading up to the agreement. Congemi was allowed to review “evidence that payments were made,” according to a copy of the settlement made available to the press. Roberts also agreed to waive any claims of defamation stemming from the ads.
Both sides left the courthouse claiming victory, with Roberts saying he successfully put a stop to ads he called “malicious and not factual.”
One asserted Roberts didn’t pay his taxes for five years beginning in 2010, and the other says simply that he doesn’t “pay no stinking taxes.”
Roberts, who put his returns in the mail shortly before qualifying for the election last month, has said he had to delay his filings because he had appeals pending with the IRS. He noted he got refunds in each case.
Roberts said leaving the courtroom Monday that Congemi had made factually inaccurate claims a central part of the campaign, something he could not let stand.
Congemi said he considers the decision a victory because Roberts’ campaign can no longer run its ad, which he called “scurrilous,” and he took a shot at his opponent, asking again why Roberts didn’t file five years of tax returns until the day he had to qualify for the election.
“How long do we have to hear from Mr. Roberts that the dog ate his homework,” he said.
As he has before, Roberts said he was fully within his rights to make the appeals that he did with the IRS and that he did nothing wrong.
The dispute began last week, but both sides agreed on Friday to suspend negative campaigning against each other and postpone the case until Monday largely due to a death in Congemi’s family.
The commercials echo allegations the Congemi camp tried unsuccessfully to use to get Roberts disqualified from the race last month.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder