Lawsuit alleges fraudulent recall petition filed against Welsh m - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lawsuit alleges fraudulent recall petition filed against Welsh mayor

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Work is underway to change state law after something happened that's never happened before, according to a spokesman for the Louisiana Secretary of State.  

It has to do with a recall petition filed last year against Welsh Mayor Carolyn Louviere. There's a dispute over whether the chairman of the recall petition knew anything about it.

At last word that petition was in limbo, and approaching the 180 day deadline for signatures.

Now there's a dispute over whether Jeanell Jackson Vital, the woman identified as the chairman of the recall effort, even knew her name was used on the paperwork filed with the Secretary of State.

Attorney Ron Richard, who represents Mayor Louviere, has a copy of a handwritten statement allegedly signed by Vital.

"September 28 of last year Ms. Vital walks into the mayor's office and says I need to talk to you.  She then, advises the mayor and has a statement written out signed by her and witnessed by two other witnesses advising that she had nothing to do with this recall petition whatsoever, that she had not authorized anyone to file it, she didn't sign anything and it was her position and I quote, ‘Jacob Colby Perry’ filed this petition without my consent," said Richard.

Also, the recall petition filed, WAS TYPED AND had no signatures, but it turns out, there's no law requiring signatures.

Meg Casper with the Secretary of State's office says if someone intentionally filed a document with false information-- it would be a crime.

"Certainly, it's not okay and it would be considered filing a false public record.  We would also suggest the media has some responsibility in reporting these.  While they are public record, it'd be interesting to find out who was out bringing this information and making it public so that it could be reported in newspapers and on television," said Casper.

She says, because of this case they are pursuing a change in the law.

"Currently the recall petition form does not require any signature of those chairman and vice chairman, and so certainly because of this case in Welsh we're now looking at bringing forth legislation to the legislature this legislative session that would allow them to add a signature line.  When the document became public and began circulating in the community, it was brought to our attention, that the person who was named as the chairman might not be the person who had filed that form with the secretary of state's office and we feel that a signature or a mandatory show of some form of ID might be able to prevent this kind of incident in the future," said Casper.

Richard has filed a lawsuit against Welsh Alderman Colby Perry, accusing him of filing or conspiring to file a fraudulent recall petition against the mayor.

Perry has not yet received an official copy of the lawsuit, but gave this response.

"I deny the allegations.  It is a retaliatory lawsuit and it is improperly placed and we expect to prevail as we have with the four other lawsuits in Jeff Davis Court," said Perry.

Casper notes it's not the responsibility of the Secretary of State's office to determine the accuracy of the information.  She says they are simply the state's filing cabinet and says that if someone submits inaccurate information, such as when a candidate qualifies with an incorrect address, it would be up to someone to challenge it in court.

State Police say they investigated the matter and did not uncover any criminal activity.

Copyright 2018 KPLC All rights reserved

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