BATON ROUGE – U.S. Senate candidate Troy Hebert filed a lawsuit and restraining order against Southern Media & Opinion Research and pollster Bernie Pinsonat for allegedly releasing incorrect information that affected his chances of taking part in candidate forums.

Hebert, an independent candidate from Jeanerette, accused Southern Media & Opinion Research and Pinsonat of wrongly identifying him as a Republican candidate in a poll commissioned by businessman and widely known political personality Lane Grigsby. This piece of information, according to the statement of the candidate submitted to the 19th Judicial District Court, cost him opportunities to participate in the forums.

Hebert was not included in the list of speakers in the forums organized by the Louisiana Restaurant Association, the National Association of Businesses and the Louisiana Municipal Association.

In the lawsuit, Hebert wants Pinsonat and Southern Media & Opinion Research to conduct another poll this time correctly identifying him as an independent candidate.

Hebert scored 2 percent in the poll, which had a 3.5 percentage-point margin of error. He left the Democratic Party in 2010 and now identifies himself as an independent candidate. This move indicated that he aimed to freely work with the legislators regardless of their party affiliation, he said, adding that he also made the switch to be able to support proposals brought forward by either party.

According to Hebert, the error in the information used in his profile would not have happened to the other candidates who belonged to the major parties. He lamented that the pollsters allegedly treated the more influential candidates differently than ones like himself, and noted that his status as a candidate who is not affiliated with any party made him a negligible personality in the race.

“Just think of the mess it would have caused if the poll had listed (John) Kennedy, (Charles) Boustany and (John) Fleming as Democrats and (Caroline) Fayard and (Foster) Campbell as Republicans,” Hebert said in a statement, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. “But because they belong to a major party and have big money, the rules are different for them.”

Meanwhile, Pinsonat acknowledged that he was not aware of the switch made by Hebert earlier in his career. He reasoned that the poll they conducted would not directly affect the outcome of the general elections in November.  

“It’s just for public consumption,” Pinsonat explained via the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.

Pinsonat also pointed out that he was only commissioned to conduct the poll. This means he had no influence over how the organizations will use the information he gave them, he said, further noting that he did not suggest that the groups should use the polls as criteria for identifying the candidates to invite to forums.

Hebert has been the commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control since November 2010, when he accepted the appointment by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. Prior to this position, he was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Louisiana State Senate.

Hebert aims to win the seat to be vacated by U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

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