Long-time French Settlement police chief ends re-election bid over ethics concerns

Long-time French Settlement Police Chief ends re-election bid over ethics concerns
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

FRENCH SETTLEMENT, LA (WAFB) - Long-time French Settlement Police Chief has canceled his bid for re-election this fall following allegations of ethics violations.

Chief Harry Brignac has held the position since 1984.

The Louisiana Board of Ethics contends that Brignac falsely swore on his form qualifying for re-election. On the form, he indicated he did not owe any outstanding fees, a claim which the ethics board says is not true.

Brignac owes $3,000 in late fees for not submitting the annual financial disclosure statements with the board. Documents show he did not submit the form in both 2013 and 2014. After repeated warnings from the ethics board, he was eventually fined $1,500 per form.

The form requires elected leaders in smaller communities to detail any income they are receiving from the state or other political subdivisions.

The chief said he chose not to submit the form because he was "embarrassed" by how little he was making each year in the positioned.

"It was a stupid mistake and now I am paying for it," he said.

The mayor of French Settlement said local leaders have been required to submit this particular form every year for much of the past decade.

"There's really no reason to not take care of your paper work, it doesn't cost any money. You just sit for five minutes, 10 minutes fill it out and fax it in, and make sure they get it," said Mayor Toni Guitrau.

Under an agreement with the board of ethics, the chief can remain in his position until the end of December, when his current term ends.

Brignac was the only candidate in the race this fall. Because he agreed to withdraw from the November election, the mayor and aldermen now need to appoint a fill-in chief until a special election is arranged next year.

"It'll be open for whoever wants to run for that position," Guitrau said.

Brignac indicated that he intends to get his paperwork in order and run for the chief position again in next year's special election.

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