Tara Wicker.jpg

Tara Wicker

A lawsuit filed Friday seeks to block Metro Council member Tara Wicker from the Baton Rouge mayor's race, claiming that she has not filed her income taxes in recent years.

Wicker's campaign has denied the allegations, saying the lawsuit is a "politically motivated" strategy to remove Wicker from the race early. Her team plans to present evidence in court next week that she paid her taxes.

Wicker, a Democrat who has served as the representative for District 10 on the Metro Council for three consecutive terms, was the first to enter a crowded race for East Baton Rouge Parish mayor-president. 

Three parish residents claim in the lawsuit that Wicker did not file taxes for 2016 and 2018. All candidates running for mayor must acknowledge they have filed appropriate tax returns or requested extensions in the last five years prior to their candidacy. 

The plaintiffs are Millard F. Cranch Jr., Richard J. Brazan Jr. and Glenn R. Ducote. The lawsuit was also filed against Clerk of Court Doug Welborn.

The lawsuit cites public records requests from the Louisiana Department of Revenue that states the office "cannot confirm filing for tax years 2016 and 2018" for Wicker. 

The plaintiffs also claim that, when Wicker filed for an extension in 2016, it was never resolved, according to a public records request. 

Wicker says she has filed her taxes as required for her candidacy. Her campaign provided a signed letter from her accountant saying he has prepared her taxes in the last five years. 

"It’s a false claim," Wicker said. "This really looks like an attempt in desperation to try to get me out of the race by any means necessary at this point."

A court date is set for Aug. 4. 

The lawsuit against Wicker is one of several legal attempts to remove candidates in local elections.

Two different lawsuits this week sought to disqualify Matt Watson, another mayoral candidate, claiming he had outstanding fines; both lawsuits were dropped. And a judge rejected a claim that Metro Councilman LaMont Cole, who is running for reelection, does not live in his district; that residency challenge has been appealed.

Email Jacqueline DeRobertis at jderobertis@theadvocate.com