Lawsuit challenges Denton candidacy

Jerry Denton’s candidacy for a seat on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal was challenged in state district court Thursday.

A lawsuit alleges Denton, who is Denham Springs city marshal, failed to disclose more than $261,000 in federal tax liens.

The suit, filed in the 21st Judicial District Court in Amite, also says that Denton had to certify under oath in his notice of candidacy that he had met state and federal income tax requirements for the past five years, but the suit alleges Denton did not certify that he filed a state income tax return for 2008.

Denton said the allegations are incorrect..

“The charges are ridiculous,” he said. “All my tax returns are filed as required by law, and I will be able to show that these allegations are without merit.”

A hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday before Judge Elizabeth Wolfe.

State law requires candidates qualifying for judicial office to file a financial disclosure statement listing all debts exceeding $10,000, plaintiff Charles D. Christmas says in the suit.

However, federal tax lien notices filed with the Livingston Parish Clerk of Court on Nov. 2, 2009, and July 30, 2012, indicate that Denton has unpaid balances with the Internal Revenue Service for tax periods 2001-2011 totaling more than $261,000, the suit alleges.

Those unpaid balances include $49,660 for 2011, $30,870 for 2010 and $40,903 for 2009, according to figures quoted in the lawsuit.

Denton did not report those debts, or any others, in the liabilities section of his 2009-2011 financial disclosure statements filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, the suit alleges.

The alleged failure to disclose, if proven, could not be corrected legally because state law requires a candidate to meet the qualifications for office at the time of qualifying, and the qualification period has ended, according to the suit.

Denton, a former Denham Springs Councilman, said the allegations are political.

“I am confident that I am a qualified candidate for the Court of Appeal, and I look forward to making a case to the voters that I am the best candidate in this race come the April 6 election,” Denton said.

Denton faces 21st Judicial District Court Judge Ernest G. “Ernie” Drake Jr. in that election. Both candidates are Republicans.

In addition to Denton, the defendants named in the suit are Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler and Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court Julian Dufreche.