St. Mary Parish GOP leader lodges complaint against Boustany
BATON ROUGE, La. — A complaint filed with federal elections officials accuses Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of paying a Democratic political organization for its endorsement, but hiding the arrangement when filing campaign finance reports.
Christian Gil, leader of the Republican Party executive committee in St. Mary Parish, lodged the allegations with the Federal Election Commission. Gil is a supporter of Boustany’s opponent in Saturday’s runoff election, Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry.
The complaint accuses Boustany of not disclosing that he paid $35,000 to the United Ballot PAC for its support, a claim denied by Boustany’s campaign as another attack by Landry backers.
The political action committee, which has traditionally supported Democratic candidates, announced its backing of Boustany and President Barack Obama on an endorsement card distributed in the Lafayette area before the Nov. 6 election in the 3rd District race.
Boustany and Landry advanced to a December runoff out of a five-man field vying for the seat representing southwest Louisiana and Acadiana. The two Republican congressmen were forced into the same district when the state lost a U.S. House seat after the latest federal census.
Gil alleges that Boustany shifted the money to the company of his campaign manager, John Porter, who then paid it directly to United Ballot leaders to cover the costs of distribution and printing of its endorsement slate card.
“He’s trying to cover himself so he doesn’t get known for what he’s done and what he is. I want voters to know that he’s working with the Democrats to try to get elected. He’s not a conservative,” Gil said.
Porter said the claims were untrue. He said neither his company nor the Boustany campaign ever paid money to United Ballot. He suggested the FEC complaint was a tactic by a Landry supporter to drum up criticism of Boustany.
“Anyone with a stamp can file submit a complaint to the FEC, whether it has merit or not. The timing of this and relationship between Jeff Landry and Christian Gil should certainly be examined. I think this is just another desperate, false last minute attack by Jeff Landry and his campaign,” Porter said in an email.
Porter didn’t explain what the $35,000 paid for. On campaign finance documents, the payment was listed as providing door-to-door get out the vote efforts.
United Ballot leaders haven’t returned repeated messages from The Associated Press since the PAC’s endorsement first appeared.
The FEC confirmed Tuesday that it received Gil’s complaint, but didn’t say whether an investigation would be conducted, citing confidentiality in the complaint process.
Gil also filed his complaint with the public integrity section of the U.S. Department of Justice and with the U.S. House’s ethics committee.
In his complaint, Gil pointed to statements from Mike Stagg, a member of the Democratic Party executive committee in Lafayette Parish who ran unsuccessfully against Boustany in 2006.
On a weekly radio show, Stagg said the Boustany campaign had paid $35,000 to be supported by United Ballot. Stagg’s comments came before the latest campaign finance reports were filed with the $35,000 payment to Porter’s company.
Stagg wouldn’t tell AP who told him the information about United Ballot, calling it “information I picked up from people who were close the activities.”
Stagg said he didn’t know about the FEC complaint against Boustany. He said he talked about the United Ballot endorsement twice on his radio show because he thought it was absurd that Boustany would be listed on an endorsement slate that featured Obama since Boustany regularly criticizes the Democratic president and his policies.
By MELINDA DESLATTE