BR mayor among politicians not paying fines
BATON ROUGE - Mayor Kip Holden owes $2,500 to the state and has not paid up, according to the Louisiana Ethics Commission.
Holden's fine is from failing to file a 2008 personal financial disclosure form properly.
He's one of hundreds of public officials who owe money to the state. There's nearly a $1 million the commission is trying to collect.
"I beat them in court," Holden said when asked about the violations. "There are no other outstanding violations that we were even charged with except the things that went to court."
WBRZ News 2's Investigative Unit obtained records that show Judge Kay Bates did side with Holden on a different fine from 2010.
But his fine from 2008 is still on the books.
"I don't even know what that is," Holden said when handed a copy of his fine.
In a 2011 letter to the commission, the mayor asked to have his 2008 fine waived.
Holden's letter went on to say the $2,500 fine would be a financial hardship and shifted responsibility to his son for a paperwork mistake.
The mayor wrote, "For my son, it is a lesson learned."
The ethics board denied the waiver.
Political watchdog C.B. Forgotston criticized what he calls the ethics commissions' lack of teeth.
"My God they've had these debtors around for years and they still can't seem to get around to collecting them," Forgotston said. "And the public doesn't seem to find any stigma to them."
Politicians often go in front of the ethics board to request their fines waived. Sometimes the penalties are reduced. Collecting is another issue.
"I think it's like any collection service or any other collection issue any other government agency would face. Can you find them and do they have assets from which you can collect?" Ethics Commission Administrator Kathleen Allen said. "I think it's the same problem that any other agency faced with collection is faced with as well."
The politicians in our area that remain on the delinquent list include St. Gabriel Police Chief Kevin Ambeau, Livingston Parish Councilman Chance Parent and Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman Denise Marcelle
The ethics commission says it sent Holden a demand letter in January for his 2008 fine.
He was penalized for leaving the amount of his salary as Baton Rouge Mayor blank on his personal financial disclosure form.
The demand letters are sent out regularly. Marcelle got one in August.
"I'm working with them to pay the fine," Marcelle said.
But the commission says there is no record Marcelle contacted its office until after the WBRZ News 2 Investigative Unit started asking questions.
Monday, Marcelle partially paid her fines, but a $2,000 fine from 2011 is still delinquent.
"If it has gotten to the order of being the final order, it's like a judgment so it's something that they should pay," Allen said.
Click HERE for a list of politicians with oustanding fines.