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|Armstrong files ethics complaint against city attorney|
Less than 48 hours before polls open, Monroe mayoral candidate Dr. Ray Armstrong filed a complaint with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, accusing Monroe city attorney Nanci Summersgill of unethically engaging in campaign activities on behalf of her boss, Mayor Jamie Mayo.
Mayo denied the charge.
Armstrong and Mayo will square off Saturday in a run-off election for Monroe mayor. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
"I have recently learned of evidence that strongly suggested that the City Attorney for Monroe, Ms. Nanci S. Summersgill, is using her office and city assets to assist the campaign of Mayor Jamie Mayo," Armstrong said in a written complaint filed late Thursday with the Board of Ethics.
An identical letter was sent to Secretary of State Tom Schedler.
According to Armstrong, Summersgill twice phoned New Orleans businessman Clyde Burnett, a former business associate of Armstrong's.
Armstrong said Burnett reported receiving two messages regarding a "sludge digester." A sludge digester is a piece of equipment used in the treatment of sewage.
"I understand and Mr. Burnett confirms that he has no current relationship with the City of Monroe," Armstrong's complaint stated.
"Mr. Burnett also informs me that Ms. Summersgill's inquiries, while representing herself as the 'City Attorney of Monroe,' caused him to feel threatened and intimidated," the complaint said.
Armstrong's complaint also said that "the only logical explanation" for Summersgill's efforts to contact Burnett was to assist Mayo's campaign.
Mayo offered a different take.
Mayo told The Ouachita Citizen that Summersgill's call was not related to the campaign but was instead a legitimate inquiry into the purchase of vital equipment for the city's sewer treatment system.
"This screams of a desperate political tactic by Ray Armstrong," Mayo said.
Mayo said Summersgill was approached by the city's capital infrastructure committee to gather information on sludge digesters.
The committee was exploring the replacement of two malfunctioning units.
Summersgill reached out to several companies in her efforts to gather information the committee had requested, according to Mayo.
"In essence, she was asked to get information on sludge digesters and to provide them with options and information," Mayo said. "It just so happened that one of the companies she reached out to is owned by my opponent. This is absolutely unrelated to the campaign."
Mayo said Armstrong's suggestion that Summersgill's calls amounted to harassment was overreaching.
"There are many ways to harass someone," Mayo said. "But exploring potential procurement opportunities is not one of them."