Pay to play: Bill would force Shelvin to settle ethics fine
Councilman Brandon Shelvin
[Update: SB 195 passed the full Senate unanimously and has been assigned to the House & Governmental Affairs Committee.]
Among the roughly three dozen bills the state Senate will consider when it convenes at 4 p.m. Tuesday is a proposal by state Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport, that could have implications for Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin, assuming he seeks re-election this fall.
Jackson’s Senate Bill 195, if passed into law, would require that a person running for office in Louisiana cannot qualify to run until all outstanding fines levied by the Louisiana Ethics Board are paid in full. Among the many hundreds of people on the board’s website identified as owing collectively hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines is Shelvin, who, according to the board, was fined $2,000 in 2007 in connection with his successful bid for the District 3 council seat but has only ponied up $100 toward settling his debt; Shelvin still owes the board — and by extension Louisiana taxpayers — $1,900. The councilman was fined, according to the website, for failing to file a supplemental campaign finance report.
Shelvin’s financial woes have been well chronicled by this newspaper over the last couple of years. He has been the target of numerous lawsuits, typically for defaulting on bank loans. Read more about that here, here and here.
SB 195 has already cleared the Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee. If the full Senate approves it, the bill would then move to the House.
Also listed on the Ethics Board’s website as owing fines for filing campaign finance reports late are Marcus Allen and Chris Obafunwa; both were primary election candidates in the 2003 election for Lafayette city-parish president — an election Joey Durel won in a runoff. According the board, Allen owes $4,240; Obafunwa is on the hook for $1,800. Neither has made any payments to the board to resolve the debt.
The fines levied against Shelvin, Obafunwa and Allen pale in comparison to many other candidates, notably former Orleans Parish School Board member and perpetual office seeker Jimmy Fahrenholtz, who owes more than $31,000 in fines. JoAnn Gines, a Shreveport attorney and former unsuccessful candidate for district judge, owes more than $23,000 dating all the way back to 1994.
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