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|AG, Kostelka sue Brown in residency challenge|
A Monroe man must prove he has lived in Senate District 35 for the past 12 months if he wants to continue his campaign to unseat Sen. Bob Kostelka.
Harris Brown is scheduled to appear in 4th Judicial District Court Monday as a defendant in a pair of lawsuits seeking to have him disqualified as a candidate in the District 35 race.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell challenged Brown's eligibility to seek the District 35 seat in a lawsuit filed in District Court Thursday. Kostelka, R-Monroe, filed a second lawsuit later Thursday afternoon challenging Brown's eligibility to run for the office.
Both lawsuits allege Brown does not meet the required residency standards to run for the District 35 seat. According to the lawsuits, Brown lived outside the district until May of this year.
State law requires that Brown, a Republican, must have lived in District 35 for a minimum of one year prior to qualifying to be eligible to participate as a candidate in the race.
Brown's campaign issued a statement Thursday evening, dismissing the lawsuits as frivolous.
"Decades-long politicians will do anything to keep a political job," said Brown, R-Monroe. "I am running for the Senate to create jobs. Bob Kostelka's history of rewarding himself with pay raises at the expense of taxpayers does not match up well with my job creating record. Mr. Kostelka knows he can't win with the voters, so he is turning to the courts."
Kostelka's challenge was filed in District Court by Monroe attorney Cameron Murray.
Murray declined to elaborate on the lawsuit.
"Our filing speaks for itself," said Murray. "And it was made to prevent a fraud from being perpetrated on the voters of District 35."
The flap over where Brown lived began early last week when a District 35 voter filed a complaint with 4th Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones. Jones recused himself from the dealing with matter Monday. He referred the complaint to the state Attorney General's office.
In that complaint, Harold Hodges of Monroe said he did not believe Brown had lived long enough at 320 Lakeside Dr. in Monroe to qualify as a candidate in the District 35 race.
Brown listed 320 Lakeside Dr. as his address when he qualified last week to challenge Kostelka in the Oct. 22 primary election.
Brown bought the Lakeside Drive home in May 2011 from the estate of the previous owner. Prior to May, Brown's voter registration card reported his address as 2212 Pargoud Blvd, Monroe.
Both addresses are in District 35.
However, according to Kostelka's lawsuit, Brown has repeatedly claimed to live outside District 35.
In numerous filings with the parish and state government, Brown listed 266 Cuba Farm Rd. as his address. The Cuba Farm Road address is in Senate District 33, which is represented by Sen. Mike Walsworth, R-West Monroe.
As late as May 16, 2011, Brown listed the Cuba Farm Road address as his residence in a filing with the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court's office. That's when Brown and his wife bought a home at 320 Lakeside Dr. from the estate of Linda Melton. Brown and his wife paid $775,000 for the Lakeside Drive home.
Earlier, in December 2010, Brown informed a deputy with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office his address was on Cuba Farm Road. The deputy interacted with Brown while responding to a complaint filed against Brown over an incident near Cuba Farm Road.
According to Kostelka's lawsuit, Brown's driver's license also lists 266 Cuba Farm Road as his address.
Brown voted in the Nov. 2, 2010 election using the Cuba Farm Road address on his voter registration with the Ouachita Parish Registrar of Voters Office.
Filings for two corporations owned by Brown and his wife list the Cuba Farm Road address as the couple's residence.
Until Sept. 13, 2011, Brown claimed a Homestead Exemption on the Cuba Farm Road property.
Brown qualified for the District 35 race a full seven days before the Homestead Exemption change, according to Kostelka's lawsuit.
A separate lawsuit filed by the Louisiana Attorney General's Office mirrors the claims made in Kostelka's lawsuit.