SHREVEPORT – The heated pursuit for the 2nd Circuit
Court of Appeal judge turned scalding as both candidates were found in
violation of the Louisiana Judicial Code of Conduct for statements made against
each other in their campaigns.
Campaign Oversight Committee of the Louisiana Supreme Court (Oversight Committee), which helps
monitor and deter unethical judicial campaign conduct, issued two public
statements Nov. 4 regarding complaints filed against both candidates for
allegations they violated the Judicial Code of Conduct.
District Judge Jeff Cox and incumbent Judge Jay
Caraway were both found to violate the code of conduct for making false
statements about each other, a violation of Canon
7A(9), which states that candidates, “shall not knowingly make, or
cause to be made, a false statement concerning the identity, qualifications,
present position, or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent.”
statement points to a complaint filed against him regarding an assertion posted
to Caraway’s campaign committee Facebook page named the Jeff Cox Record,
which states: “Jeff Cox spent $33,500 to help elect Hillary Clinton.”
“This statement is based on a ballot produced by the Webster
United Minority Voter’s League, which endorses Hillary Clinton and Judge Cox, among
others. Judge Cox’s appearance on this ballot with other candidates for public office
does not constitute an endorsement by Judge Cox of the candidates with which he
appears,” The Oversight
As such, the committee found the statement to be false and in
violation of the code of conduct.
Caraway’s campaign committee forwarded the ballot in
question along with Cox’s expenditure line documenting his payment to the Webster
United Minority Voter’s League to the Louisiana Record.
“The committee said our statement was false because
they found he did not endorse Hillary Clinton. Our disputed campaign statement
was not based on any knowledge of whether he endorsed other candidates on the
ballot, only that his payment for the ballot and its distribution helped in an
effort to elect himself, Hillary Clinton and the other candidates on the
a representative told
the Louisiana Record.
The campaign said the $33,500 payment to the Voters
League is an undisputed fact, and was obtained directly from Cox’s campaign
disclosure statement to the Louisiana Ethics Board.
“The Oversight Committee's
ruling properly confirmed that ‘a ballot produced by the Webster United
Minority Voter’s League ... endorses Hillary Clinton and Judge Jeff Cox.’ Our
campaign's position has been that Jeff Cox's $33,500 payment to the Voters
League helps to elect Hillary Clinton by getting out the vote for both Jeff Cox
and Hillary Clinton. We therefore stand by our position that Jeff Cox's
$33,500 is supporting a ballot that helps elect Hillary Clinton,”
Caraway’s representative said.
“The Oversight Committee also found [Nov. 4] that for
the second time Jeff Cox has lied about his 53 percent reversal rate,” Caraway’s
representative told the Louisiana Record.
Issued on the same day as Caraway’s, the Oversight Committee
said the complaint against Cox
“Concerns a mailer that was sent out on behalf of Judge Cox by his campaign committee.
The mailer states, ‘…Judge Cox has ruled on over 30,000 cases and 99 percent of
those decisions stand.”
The committee found the statement violates the code of
conduct stating, “To the extent that it implies that Judge Cox has made over
30,000 appealable rulings which have been reviewed and upheld by a higher
This is the second violation in one week for Cox. The
Oversight Committee issued a statement Oct. 31 regarding a mailer that
was sent out on behalf of Cox by his campaign committee.
believes the mailer misrepresents the facts of State v. Montgomery, supra, involved the appropriate bail amount
for a defendant arrested for aggravated rape. The mailer at issue identifies
the defendant as a ‘suspected murderer’ and charges that Judge Cox's opponent, Judge
Jay Caraway, ‘agreed to reverse the district court bond decision, allowing [the
defendant] to go free,” the statement said.
The Oversight Committee noted the defendant was not actually
indicted for principal manslaughter until May 15, 2014. Caraway, as a member of
a three-judge panel, reduced the defendant's bail obligation on the charge of
aggravated rape April 11, 2014, before the indictment for principal manslaughter.
The bail obligation was reduced from $500,000 to $100,000 by the three-judge
panel, not eliminated.
Cox’s campaign did not respond to the Louisiana Record’s requests for comment.
The Oversight Committee, established
in 2002, consists of 15 court-appointed members and includes retired
judges, lawyers and citizens who are neither lawyers nor judges. If at least two-thirds of the members decide there is enough evidence of a violation, the
committee issues a public statement.