LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - The man challenging Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier in the upcoming election says the incumbent is improperly spending public money to promote himself.
The billboards being questioned by challenger Christian Chesson feature DeRosier’s picture and say “Welcome to Louisiana. Here to commit a crime? Do not take any of the next 101 exits. A message from Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier.”
“All of a sudden I see billboards out there promoting John DeRosier,” Chesson said. “Not the DA’s office, promoting himself with taxpayer funds.”
DeRosier said the billboards are a standard tactic in law enforcement. He said they were planned before he even knew Chesson would oppose him.
“They have been used by the state government, state police, sheriff’s departments and this office for the last nine years to raise public awareness about issues involving criminal activity,” DeRosier said.
KPLC-TV (https://bit.ly/1whJlGN) reports that in 2013 the district attorney’s office spent more than $13,000 on public relations, including billboards and broadcast commercials. In 2014, spending has risen to more than $34,000.
Chesson said he feels the similarities between the signs bought by the district attorney’s office and other billboards purchased by DeRosier’s campaign are too close for comfort.
“I don’t think a billboard saying ‘we prosecute this’ or ‘we prosecute that’ is going to deter crime,” Chesson said.
State law says “no public funds shall be used to urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate or proposition.” If the spending was challenged, a court would have to decide if the billboards are legal.
Chesson said he has not filed an ethics complaint over the billboards. The Louisiana Board of Ethics said it can’t confirm whether anyone else has filed an ethics complaint.
Information from: KPLC-TV, https://kplctv.com
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