Desiree Charbonnet isn’t giving up on a line of attack she first used against Michael Bagneris at the WWL-TV debate Wednesday night.
The spat between the two former judges began when Charbonnet suggested Bagneris might have baggage that kept him from getting appointed to the federal bench after he was vetted for that job by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Bagneris denied that claim, saying he was passed over because Obama wanted to appoint the first female black judge, Nannette Jolivette Brown, to the New Orleans federal court.
Tensions in the New Orleans mayor’s race heated up Wednesday night, as the top three candida…
But Charbonnet kept up the questions Thursday with a new release suggesting other factors may have been at play, some of which were aired during Bagneris’ unsuccessful 2014 run for mayor against Mitch Landrieu.
The release noted the IRS had filed a lien against Bagneris for failing to pay $100,000 in taxes in the 1980s and 1990s, something Bagneris has said was due to the need to pay medical bills for his daughter, who was born with a hole in her heart.
The Charbonnet campaign also brought up questions, dating back to his time as a judge, about his use of campaign funds to pay for his personal car, and it questioned his travel expenses and his improper participation, along with the other judges on the Civil District Court bench, in a taxpayer-funded supplemental life and health insurance plan.
“It’s time for Bagneris to come clean and tell the voters the real reason that he was rejected by the White House,” according to the release.
Bagneris’ campaign fired back.
“Desiree Charbonnet falsely claims Judge Bagneris’ nomination for the federal bench was rejected because of vetting. She’s lying and she knows it,” according to the campaign’s response, which said Bagneris had received assurances from the Department of Justice and the White House that “no personal obstacle blocked his nomination.”
The campaign also went on the offensive against Charbonnet, saying her attacks were designed “to hide the fact that City Hall contractors have bankrolled much of her million-dollar campaign” and questioning her association with bail bondsman Balir Boutte and attorney Ike Spears, who have been involved in her campaign.
The release went on to mention Boutte’s 1990 conviction for manslaughter stemming from a shoot-out that killed a 14-year-old, as well as a current lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center accusing his bail bond firm of “kidnapping and extortion” to collect on what the suit says are illegal fees. The release targeted Spears for representing strip club owners opposed to a city ordinance requiring strippers to be 21 years old.
All those charges mirror those made by Not For Sale NOLA, a political action committee opposing Charbonnet, and businessman Sidney Torres, who has been attacking Charbonnet since she dropped out of a candidate forum he was hosting.
“Can the good people of New Orleans afford the risk of having a mayor with such poor judgment as to turn for advice to Boutte and Spears?” the Bagneris campaign asked. “It’s all about money and city contracts for them. We’ve had enough of these old-style politics — and of Boutte, Spears and their political puppet, Desi Charbonnet.”
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.