- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An official with a Baton Rouge school involved in a pro-voucher ad calling Gov. John Bel Edwards a liar has disavowed the TV spot.

The Advocate cites (https://bit.ly/1Tbsqn9 ) a letter from Walter Williams, chairman of the Parish Council for St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, to Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children, which launched the TV campaign.

In his letter, Williams said the ad’s producers “were not forthcoming” about the spot, which in its first version featured two students wearing St. Francis Xavier shirts.

“Plainly, they did not realize they were participating in a political ad and feel that information was withheld from them purposefully,” Williams wrote.

Duplessis’ group accused Edwards of lying to voters about cuts to the state voucher program.

Edwards has proposed to shrink voucher spending by $6 million to $36 million in the upcoming 2016-17 school year as the state grapples with a $600 million shortfall. A final version of the budget hasn’t been crafted by lawmakers.

The ad said the cut would boot students from the program, which uses taxpayer dollars to send students from low- and middle-income families to attend private schools. The governor says he doesn’t expect any students to lose a voucher with the reduction.

“We believe you have endangered the fate of the scholarship program by portraying its supporters as being more concerned with the political nature of the program than in ensuring its continuance,” Williams wrote Duplessis.

In a statement, Duplessis disputed the criticism and noted the letter wasn’t signed by parents of voucher students.

“We don’t believe that this letter represents the sentiments of parents who are benefiting from the scholarship program,” she said.

Williams said Friday new ads by Duplessis’ group photo-shopped over St. Francis Xavier logos seen in the first TV spot that aired for two weeks. He said the new ad also removed charges that Edwards lied.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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