THE INVESTIGATORS: Complaint submitted, investigation into whether Secretary of State violated law possible
An official complaint has been submitted to the State Board of Ethics against Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, alleging he violated Louisiana Revised Statute 18:18.2.
Louisiana Revised Statute 18:18.2 clearly identifies what the secretary of state can and cannot do relative to campaigning. The law reads:
“The secretary of state may participate or engage in political activity related to his own candidacy for election to public office, including soliciting contributions for his campaign and taking an active part in the management of the affairs of his campaign and his principal campaign committee. He may also exercise his right as a citizen to express his opinion privately and to cast his vote as he desires. The secretary of state shall not participate or engage in any other political activity, including the candidacy of any other person for election to public office; membership on any other national, state, or local committee of a political party or faction; making or soliciting contributions for any political party, faction, or other candidate; or taking active part in the management of the affairs of a political party, faction, other candidate, or any other political campaign.”
This comes one day after the 9News Investigators reported the complaint was imminent and nearly a month after WAFB’s first investigative report into claims that Ardoin violated state law when he allegedly campaigned for others at a political rally in Monroe.
Fred Smith mailed the complaint to the State Board of Ethics on Friday, Dec. 6 after telling WAFB’s Scottie Hunter he believes the matter is not being taken seriously.
“Mr. Ardoin’s behavior violated the law and I just think that some kind of investigation should at least be pursued,” said Smith. “I have seen no action taken by any other officials, local or state, and so if we are to maintain trust in the electoral process, then those who are responsible for conducting elections have to be held to the standard of the law.”
LSU law professor Ken Levy and local attorney Franz Borghardt have also weighed in on the matter, both saying they believe Ardoin broke the law with his comments about President Donald Trump.
According to guidelines through the State Board of Ethics, the board will now decide whether to move forward with an official investigation. Those guidelines point out a majority, or at least eight members of the body must approve the matter in order for it to be referred for investigation.
WAFB could not schedule an on-camera interview with the Secretary of State despite at least two attempts to do so through his press secretary. After WAFB’s Scottie Hunter showed up to the office in person, the Secretary issued the following statement, saying the allegations against him are false.
“I have always been committed to fair, accurate and secure elections. It is crystal clear that no law was broken by me campaigning for reelection at an event where I received the endorsement of the President of the United States. What is also clear is that an overwhelming majority of Louisiana voters believe in the job we are doing, and I am excited about four more years of serving the great state of Louisiana.”
Despite his strong stance, video of the alleged violation appears to have been removed from the Secretary of State’s official campaign Facebook page since the 9News Investigators first started asking questions.
There is no timeline on how soon the Board could take a vote on whether to pursue an investigation.