Beauregard newspaper reporter files challenge to Joe Chapa’s candidacy

Beauregard newspaper reporter files challenge to Joe Chapa’s candidacy

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Five people have filed a challenge to the candidacy of an 18-year-old running for sheriff in Beauregard Parish.

The challenge, filed in Beauregard’s 36th Judicial District Court, claims that Jose “Lil Joe” Chapa does not meet the residency requirements to run for sheriff.

During the qualifying period this week, Chapa officially signed up to run for Sheriff in the Oct. 12 election. He is running against John Gott, Mark Herford, Jim Jacobsen and Rob Moreland Sr.

Beauregard Daily News reporter O. Chip Robinson is one of the five people listed on the challenge and confirmed that she penned the challenge herself.

Louisiana law states that a candidate for sheriff, tax assessor, or clerk of court “shall have resided in the state for the preceding two years and shall have been actually domiciled for the preceding year in the parish from which he seeks election.”

The challenge claims that Chapa does not meet those requirements, having lived in Bacliff, Texas, with his parents at least a portion of that time. It claims that Chapa’s parents filed a homestead exemption on property in Bacliff (which is in Galveston County); that Chapa’s father, Jose Chapa Sr., was issued a Texas driver’s license in May 2017; and that “Lil Joe” Chapa registered to vote in Texas in October 2018.

Reached for comment by KPLC, Chapa said he has done his due diligence and previous research and knows he meets the qualifications. A hearing for the challenge has not been set.

Robinson, who is listed as Orallee Robinson on the challenge, also made the claim that Chapa does not meet the qualifications to run for Sheriff in a story for the Beauregard Daily News: “ ‘Lil Joe’ falls short: Why Chapa can’t qualify for Beauregard Sheriff.”

The newspaper later ran a clarification that “the Beauregard Daily News did not intend to create the impression that Mr. Chapa had been found unqualified to run for office by any court or state agency.”

Robinson also wrote a news story on Wednesday, during the qualifying period: “Candidacy requirements and your right to object.”

The Code of Ethics for the Radio Television Digital News Association reads that “political activity and active advocacy can undercut the real or perceived independence of those who practice journalism. Journalists do not give up the rights of citizenship, but their public exercise of those rights can call into question their impartiality.”

It also reads that “Commercial and political activities, as well as the acceptance of gifts or special treatment, cause harm even when the journalists involved are 'off duty’ or ‘on their own time.’ ”

Robinson says that she does not feel there is a conflict of interest or that her writing and filing the challenge makes her a part of the story.

“I don’t think it does, personally, because I was given the assignment and I proved what I needed to," Robinson said. "I was given the second assignment and did what I was supposed to. The newspaper knows I’m challenging. I was going to challenge before I even wrote the story.”

The Beauregard Daily News declined comment.

“The only reason my name is on there is because I said if he put his name on for a candidate that I was going to challenge," Robinson said. "Because I said it, I have to do it. That’s the only reason I’m on there.”

Read the challenge below or HERE.

Copyright 2019 KPLC. All rights reserved.