Nungesser files ethics complaint in race

Lt. Gov. Dardenne says part of his job

Billy Nungesser’s campaign consultant filed an ethics complaint Wednesday alleging that Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is using his office for political purposes.

Nungesser, who is the Plaquemines Parish president, is challenging Dardenne’s Oct. 22 re-election bid.

“His campaign is increasingly turning to use of state resources to run their campaign. You cannot use state resources to promote yourself when you are a candidate on the ballot and he’s doing it,” said Nungesser’s consultant, Kent Gates, of San Diego.

Dardenne disputed the allegations made in a letter Gates submitted to the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

He said the Nungesser campaign is reaching to come up with wrongdoing on his part.

State ethics administrator Kathleen Allen said state law forbids her from confirming or denying the complaint’s filing. Allen said the ethics agency “generally does not address those issues related to the use of public funds or property for political purposes.”

In the letter, Gates claims Dardenne:

• Used the state of Louisiana’s marketing slogan “Pick Your Passion” in a mail-out that promotes his candidacy and that he did not disclose who paid for it.

“I may talk about “Pick your passion. Tell me your passion. It does not use the logo,” Dardenne said.

The mailer notes that Dardenne came up with the slogan, which is being used to promote the state.

Dardenne said the mail-out is clearly a product of his campaign.

• Sent an official letter as lieutenant governor as part of a political attempt to smear Nungesser.

Gates points to Dardenne’s request for a copy of a $175,000 video promoting Plaquemines Parish so it could be used on the state tourism website.

Dardenne questioned the expenditure for the video, which he said he hasn’t seen. Nungesser has said he had nothing to do with the spending.

“I’m in the business of promoting Louisiana, including Plaquemines Parish,” said Dardenne. “I don’t know how that’s using my office for politics.”

• Used a public service radio announcement promoting the Louisiana Book Festival to promote himself. Gates points to a spot that ran on a Lake Charles radio station Tuesday.

Dardenne said he taped the festival promotion some time ago. He said the station erroneously aired the spot.

“I’m not intending to use it even though it’s appropriate for me to be publicizing the book festival,” Dardenne said.