NEW ORLEANS – Dane Ciolino, a professor at Loyola
University New Orleans Law School, believes the conviction of St. Tammany District
Attorney Walter Reed on state campaign finance charges is tantamount to federal
Reed was found guilty on May 2 of 18 of 19
corruption-related counts related to misuse of state campaign funds totaling
more than $100,000.
“One thing that was interesting to me as
a criminal law professor is that it appears to be an effort to criminalize, or
to federalize, state campaign finance laws,” Ciolino recently told the Louisiana Record.
Attorneys for Reed believed the case was
a state ethics matter.
“It is unusual to see what otherwise
would be alleged violations of state campaign finance laws be ratcheted up to
federal fraud, conspiracy and money laundering charges,” Ciolino said. “But
that’s what happened.”
Reed was also convicted of making false
statements on his tax returns.
His son, Steven Reed, was also convicted on one count each of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. Walter Reed allegedly gave his son campaign money and then lied by saying it for campaign expenses.
“What went wrong for Reed was his view of
what was permissible under state campaign finance law while generating goodwill
for himself as a political candidate,” Ciolino said. “It was broader than the
view taken by the government, and, ultimately, taken by the jury.”
Other experts believe the verdict sends a message
that the federal government will crackdown on state campaign funds violations. Stephanie
Grace, political columnist for the New
Orleans Advocate, wrote on the newspapers website, “…Reed
pursued payoffs wherever and whenever he saw an opportunity—and had no qualms about using
his elected post to enhance his personal bottom line.”
Sentencing for Reed has been set for Sept. 15.