In a bizarre display of legal logic, even for Louisiana, Commissioner of Elections Angie Rogers told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) that information provided to LPNO by her Director of Election was erroneous, and that District One Monroe City Councilman-elect Ray Armstrong would NOT be immediately commissioned and sworn into office, despite clear language in the law that says he should.
When a reapportionment or redistricting plan fails to receive pre-clearance pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by the deadline set forth in R.S. 18:1941 or R.S. 18:1942 and there is a postponement of the election, the secretary of state shall promptly certify the name of any candidate elected at the postponed election…
(a) Following the close of qualifying and prior to the primary election if the candidate is declared elected without opposition.
Additionally, Director of Elections Angie Bouy, who is subordinate to Rogers, was thrown under the bus by her boss. Bouy had told LPNO Friday that Armstrong was eligible to be commissioned on 8/27, and that delays because of Hurricane Isaac were the reason the commission papers had not been sent out. Buoy was asked specifically about the Monroe council elections.
When asked twice if Bouy gave out wrong information, Rogers replied yes both times. Rogers spoke to LPNO by phone after an email explanation in response to questions addressed to Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler.
Here’s what Rogers wrote to us in her email:
Dr. Armstrong was elected unopposed and normally we would issue his commission to take office. But in this matter, the Monroe City Council was redistricted and their elections were delayed because they did not receive Sec. 5 approval under the Voting Rights Act by the United States Dept. of Justice timely. By law, R. S. 42:2, the sitting councilmembers are to remain in office until their successors are elected. Due to redistricting of the Council, there are no successors for the present districts, as all districts have new boundaries. Therefore, we can not issue a commision to Dr. Armstrong until all new districts have been filled by election. Dr. Armstrong’s new district boundaries include part of old Dist. 1 and part of old Dist. 2. The successors in these old districts are required to remain in office until their successors are elected. If the primary election in Nov. concludes all races, then we will issue all commisions 10 days after the election. If there is a run off in any district, then all commissons will be issued 10 days after the Dec 8 run off election.
When asked to provide the specific provision in the law or any court case that addresses the old/new district boundary issue, Rogers could not do so. She cited RS 18:513 as authority for her opinion, but there is nothing in that statute that refers to district line or boundaries.
Several times, her retort was, “I can explain it to you, but I can’t make you understand it.”
Best we can tell, Rogers opinion has no basis in law, and is simply made up.
Rogers also refused to discuss the involvement of Monroe City Attorney Nanci Sumersgill in the controversy.
Reportedly, Summersgill and Rogers had discussions last Friday after we published Bouy’s assertion that Armstrong should be commissioned.
Summersgill is appointed by and reports directly to Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, who is a political enemy of Armstrong. Mayo defeated Armstrong in the mayoral contest last spring.
Said Rogers, “You’ll have to talk to Ms. Summersgill about that.”