Matassa bribery case moving too slow for some citizens
BATON ROUGE - It's been six months since audio recordings first surfaced that supposedly show Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa offered a bribe to a Gonzales city council candidate. A handful of Ascension politicians and activists met with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office Thursday about the case but were only given reassurances the investigation would be fair.
The AG's office is barred from discussing details of its grand jury investigation, they're not even allowed to acknowledge its existence. However, officials were still able to explain the general investigative process to the citizens Thursday.
"It was educational and I think it will reinstate trust in the process," said Daniel "Doc" Satterlee, an Ascension Parish councilman and Matassa opponent. Satterlee said he's also reassured by the reports that the grand jury has subpoenaed witnesses.
Another person at the meeting was former parish president candidate Clint Cointment who narrowly lost to Matassa in the December 2015 runoff. Also present was local activist Jeff Pettit, who played a minor role in the audio recordings. Officials with the Attorney General's office told Jeff Pettit he was a potential witness and was asked to leave the meeting. In a previous version of this story WBRZ-TV reported that Wade Petite attended the meeting. Petite originally released the tapes and is a witness at a grand jury probe scheduled to begin in 10 days He was not present.
In general the group of citizens said they want to topple a power hungry political machine in Ascension Parish that tries to fix elections. They said the Matassa recordings are clear evidence of that "good 'ole boy" system.
However, Matassa's lawyer Lewis Unglesby described the group of concerned citizens as a political clique who wants to overturn the results of the parish president election. "It's never appropriate or healthy in a democracy to try and use the power of accusations as a means to replace the voters' will," he said.