Civil District Court Judge Chris Bruno was issued a temporary restraining order Friday to halt dissemination of what he called false advertising ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Interim Civil Court Judge Lynn Luker granted the order against Ruth Ramsey, who is running against Bruno for the Division F seat in the same court. Luker also issued the order to Van Howenstine, a small business owner in Algiers.
The advertising alleged that Bruno tried to close down the historic Algiers Courthouse and “pushed for legislation” to do so, according to court documents. Bruno called the email pamphlet, which claimed to have a link to a legislative bill signed by Bruno, “false and defamatory in nature.”
“Judge Chris Bruno pushed for legislation — the Bruno Bill — to shut down the courthouse and cut off services to the West Bank, and these documents prove it,” reads the letter supposedly signed by Howenstine, the owner of Van’s Snowballs. “Bruno wanted to sacrifice the people of Algiers for his own political gain.”
The email claims to link to “the Bruno Bill,” but the link actually goes to Senate Bill No. 787, introduced by Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb of Baton Rouge during the 2010 legislative, according to Bruno’s lawsuit. The document adds that not only is Bruno’s name not on the bill, which did not pass, but that as a judge he has no authority to sign such a bill. Bruno has been a judge since 2009.
“Judge Bruno has never affixed his name to any bill, and any assertion to the contrary is false,” his suit says.
It is against Louisiana law to make a false statement about a candidate for election in a primary or general election. In an email to Ramsey and her campaign staff, Luker said Howenstine needed to stop circulating the pamphlet immediately.
“Mr. Howenstine has been advised that I am signing this temporary restraining order and thus he must take immediate action to prevent any further dissemination of the materials complained of in this petition,” Luker wrote.
According to Karen Carvin, a campaign consultant for Bruno, Howenstine told the court the pamphlet had been sent without his authorization.
Kevin Stuart, president of Teddlie Stuart Media Partners, said people working for the Ramsey campaign “did extensive research (about Bruno’s alleged involvement in an effort to close the Algiers Courthouse) and confirmed the allegations with multiple sources. ... What was said in the mail piece is true.”