State Sen. Conrad Appel’s re-election challenger, John LaBruzzo, agreed Tuesday to soften allegations contained in a campaign mailer that asserted Appel “rammed” through the Common Core education standards in Louisiana and that Appel bought shares in certain companies because he knew they would be getting contracts from the state to help implement the standards.
After Appel sued him over the mailer on Monday, LaBruzzo agreed to jointly release a statement with Appel that said the Metairie senator was an outspoken supporter of the Common Core but did not ram it down the throat of Louisiana’s residents, as the mailers had claimed.
LaBruzzo also agreed to spell out that he did not mean to imply anything improper or unethical had occurred regarding Appel’s purchase of stock in Microsoft Corp. and Discovery Communications Inc.
The state Department of Education says neither company has any Common Core-related contracts with the state.
A 2010 news release cited by LaBruzzo’s camp said Louisiana had approved a digital science textbook made by Discovery for use in local school districts, but there appears to be no link to the Common Core, which specifies standards only in math and English.
Appel’s purchase of stock in Microsoft occurred around the time Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core, but the company has not had a hand in implementing the standards here.
The accusations cited in LaBruzzo’s mailers were partially taken from the blog Louisiana Voice, which pointed out that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been a major Common Core backer, though it does not imply that Microsoft directly profited from Louisiana’s adoption of the standards.
Appel’s attorney, Robert Evans, said a stockbroker the senator has never met in person bought the stock on Appel’s behalf.
The mailers that Appel sued LaBruzzo over were sent out Oct. 7 but hadn’t hit voters’ mailboxes as of Monday. They also had been posted online, which prompted Appel to file a lawsuit seeking to have them halted.
The suit alleged that the mailers broke a law prohibiting political candidates from making statements that they know — or should know — are false or misleading about their opponents.
LaBruzzo’s camp stood by the accuracy of the mailers on Monday, and the case was going to be heard Tuesday in front of Judge Ellen Kovach. However, after a couple of hours of negotiations, Appel and LaBruzzo reached their agreement and avoided a trial.
The election between Appel — the Senate Education Committee chairman — and LaBruzzo, who served in the state House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012, is Oct. 24. Both are Republicans.