- Associated Press - Monday, October 23, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s ethics board waived a $2,100 fine levied on the Democrat competing to be the next state treasurer for missing a fundraising report-filing deadline, as Democrats in the state launch a late rally to support his campaign.

Derrick Edwards, who is paralyzed from the neck down by a high school football injury, said he had difficulty finding voice-activated software compatible with submitting the finance forms electronically, as required. Edwards said he since has remedied the problem.

Kathleen Allen, state ethics administrator, said the ethics board agreed Friday to Edwards’ request to waive the fine for filing the report 21 days after its July 17 due date.

A New Orleans area lawyer who has never held elected office, Edwards faces Republican former Rep. John Schroder, of St. Tammany Parish, in the Nov. 18 runoff for treasurer. Though Edwards was the top vote-getter in the primary election, Schroder is considered the front-runner in the competition after Republicans in the six-candidate primary split 67 percent of the vote.

Edwards has lagged far behind in fundraising and received no support from the Louisiana Democratic Party in the primary election.

That may be on track to change.

The Democratic Party’s executive committee has voted to recommend an endorsement of Edwards in the runoff, and the party’s governing body - the Democratic State Central Committee - will vote on that recommendation at its Saturday meeting.

“We believe he is the right choice for the position,” state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chair of the Democratic Party, said in a statement Monday. “Democrats from across the state have signed on to help Mr. Edwards - and it will take all of us to unite together to win.”

Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, hasn’t backed Edwards for the treasurer’s job, declining so far to make any voter recommendation in the race.

Republican statewide elected officials and party leaders, meanwhile, have lined up in support of Schroder’s candidacy since the GOP field has been whittled to one contender.

The special election will fill the remaining two years of Republican John Kennedy’s term. Kennedy held the seat as Louisiana’s chief money manager and investment officer for 17 years, leaving after his election to the U.S. Senate. Kennedy’s top aide, Ron Henson, is working as interim treasurer until someone is elected. Henson has backed Schroder.


Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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