Judge clears Banks to run for District B seat

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, August 29, 2012

VIDALIA — Ferriday Alderman Elijah “Stepper” Banks has been cleared to run for his District B seat again.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics submitted a petition against Banks’ candidacy Friday, stating that he falsely certified his notice of candidacy by stating he did not owe any outstanding fines pursuant to the campaign finance disclosure act.

The ethics board complaint stated that Banks owed $462.85 in fines, court costs and interests for failing to file an Election Day expenditure report for a 2000 election for justice of the peace.

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Monday, Concordia Parish Division B Judge Leo Boothe heard the complaint against Banks. Boothe ruled that Banks’ candidacy could stand as long as he paid his outstanding costs by 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Banks had previously paid an $80 portion of his fines in 2002.

Banks said Tuesday afternoon he had paid the fines and $182.85 in interest.

“I am more than satisfied that the ruling was good, that I have been given an opportunity to please my people in district B, and it will make me work harder in my work as an alderman in the Town of Ferriday,” Banks said.

The ruling hinged on the fact that Banks had received a letter from the ethics commission in July stating they would challenge his candidacy as long as he owed fines, said Emerson Slain, an associate of Banks who testified briefly as a character witness on his behalf during the hearing.

“To a layman who does not know the statute, the converse of that (reading) would be that if he paid the fine they would no longer challenge his candidacy,” Slain said.

Banks had already mailed a payment between the time of the July letter and the suit officially being filed, Slain said, and the judge noted that as a good faith effort in his decision to let the alderman’s candidacy stand.

Boothe declined to comment on the case Tuesday.

The ethics board also filed a similar complaint against district 1 justice of the peace candidate the Rev. Justin Conner, but Conner withdrew from his race Sunday rather than take the complaint to court.

Both candidates have run for office multiple times since the elections in which they were cited.