Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse sues Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni over campaign ads about taxes _lowres

Advocate photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse

Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse has sued Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni and his campaign staff over a television commercial Yenni has aired in the race for Jefferson Parish president.

Yenni and Lagasse are considered the frontrunners in a field of five candidates in the Oct. 24 election.

The suit is the latest in a string of disputes in Jefferson Parish between political opponents over whether allegations contained in several of this season’s political ads are fair political comment or malicious lies.

In the case filed Tuesday, Lagasse takes issues with a Yenni campaign ad that says Lagasse, who was previously a Jefferson Parish School Board member and superintendent, tried to raise property and sales taxes in Jefferson Parish. According to the ad, Lagasse proposed more than $20 million in tax increases and succeeded in rolling taxes forward without voter approval.

The ad cites the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office and two Bureau of Governmental Research reports as sources for the claims.

While Lagasse’s suit doesn’t specifically refute anything in the ads, it argues the sources cited do not back up its claims.

“Not only do these sources not substantiate the false statements about Lagasse and/or his voting record, they do in fact refute the false statements and support the fact that defendants knew or should have been reasonably expected to know the statements are false,” it says.

Yenni filed a response including copies of 19 stories from The Times-Picayune dating back to 1994 that his lawyers said back up the assertions in the ad.

The suit seeks a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to halt the ad, as well as attorneys’ fees.

A hearing will be held Wednesday morning before Judge June Berry Darensburg in 24th Judicial District Court.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.