Cleo Fields

In this file photo, Cleo Fields speaks October 1, 2007 after the Louisiana Supreme Court determined he could not run again because of term limits.

Former Congressman Cleo Fields, who was notably caught on video stuffing nearly $20,000 in cash from Edwin Edwards in his pockets in 1997, appears to be preparing to make another run for public office.

A fundraiser is scheduled for Wednesday in New Orleans in support of his campaign for the state Senate seat that he held for 14 years.

Fields, who is a lawyer in Baton Rouge, did not respond to The Advocate's requests for comment this week.

Rico Alvendia, who is among 10 hosts for the fundraiser, confirmed details on an event invitation that shows Fields is running for Senate District 14 on Baton Rouge. The invitation lists a $500 suggested contribution amount.

The election will be part of next year's legislative cycle for a four-year term to begin in 2020.

Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, is term-limited and cannot seek re-election to the Senate seat. She replaced Fields in 2008. About two-thirds of the registered voters in District 14, which stretches from north Baton Rouge through downtown and into south Baton Rouge, are African-American.

State Rep. Pat Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat who is term limited in the lower chamber, is also running to replace Colomb. Smith, who has been in the Legislature since 2008, said she was aware of Field's candidacy, which has been rumored for months.

"It's a matter of letting the people decide, who is the best person for the job," Smith said. "I've passed a lot of bills that impact people's lives. I've been there for the people — not myself."

Fields has remained a popular figure among African-American voters, winning repeated elections to represent Baton Rouge in the state Legislature and in Congress from 1988 to 2008. 

Nearly two decades ago he became a central figure in Edwards' trial, after the FBI disclosed in 1997 that it had secretly recorded Fields at the former governor’s law office taking wads of cash from Edwards and putting it in his pockets. The FBI video was captured during an investigation into Edwards that eventually resulted in his 2000 bribery conviction. Fields was never charged and has never publicly explained the transaction.

Fields, 55, was elected to the state Senate at the age of 26 and served a term before becoming congressman in 1993. Louisiana's 4th Congressional district had been drawn as a black majority district that stretched from Baton Rouge to Shreveport. The district lines were invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 and redrawn. He then returned to the state Senate from 1998 through 2008, when he could not seek re-election because of term limits.

Fields unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1995, beating Mary Landrieu in the primary then losing to Republican Mike Foster in the general election.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.