Controversy as well as investigations are nothing new to Shreveport City Marshal Charlie Caldwell or his key deputies. Voter intimidation is now added as the election cycle is less than twelve months out. KTBS reporter Gerry May found clear evidence that Caldwell’s senior deputy and former Bossier City Marshal candidate Carl Richard has begun intimidating voters who place challenger campaign signs in or on their properties.
Two voters stated clearly to KTBS that Richard had aggressively denied their right to support an opposing candidate. KTBS has gone so far as to ask the U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley of the Western District of Louisiana for an interpretation of the federal voter intimidation law. The response seems to leave no room for interpretation, as written by the technical legal writer for the U.S. Attorney, Henri Lejeune:
“U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley stated that voter intimidation is a federal offense if it occurs during an election in which federal races are on the ballot. If a voter feels threatened or intimidated in any way the voter should contact the FBI and report the incident.”
Since both the US Senate race and US House race will be on the same ballot as the Shreveport City Marshal, it appears the next step to precipitate a prosecution will be simply for those who were intimidated, as well as the candidate, Don Otis, whose materials had been removed and whose right to freely campaign has been violated, to file an official complaint.
Adding to the complaint could be the many additional issues that have appeared since Caldwell took office after the 2010 election. These complains run the gamut of misappropriation of office funds, income tax fraud, inappropriate use of office properties as well as questionable use of public records in the Shreveport City Court system. The KTBS incident indicates that Carl Richard, who plans to run again for Bossier City Marshal is equally unconcerned about legalities and rights of voters. His crime of voter intimidation seems a foregone prosecution.
Officials have been mum regarding this case, and it our belief that some hesitate to take on an elected official a year out for an election when the voters could just throw him out by the ballot. This apparent attitude seems disrespectful to all citizens and the legal system, as the bar for misconduct has been set so low that, borrowing from Elliott Stonecipher, “even the cockroaches can crawl over it.”
Now is a time, particularly for any official whose standing on acceptance of public corruption may be in question, to prosecute one who has been called out as a law breaker. Both federal and state laws seem to have been violated, so we hope the issue will be which court has first jurisdiction. Our best wishes for a speedy path to justice, as one small step toward better government may help the tarnished reputation for lax standards all parties have had lately. Any questions regarding the federal legal issues could be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Louisiana:
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana
800 Lafayette Street, Suite 2200
Lafayette, LA 70501
337-262-6618 – Office
337-262-6783 – Fax