Louisiana Record

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Yenni recall group still working on petition despite setback in court

By Michelle de Leon | Jan 6, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — The group petitioning for a recall of Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni is continuing its drive toward the required number of signatures for their goal.

However, a ruling from a Louisiana judge dampened their hope of getting more signatures during the election cycle last fall as the group's request to petition nearer the polling places got rejected.

One of the major obstacles faced by the sponsors of the recall petition is the prohibition against politicking within 600 feet of the polling spots. The group claimed in a Nov. 14 article on www.nola.com that it is “suffering irreparable harm” because of the state law. To this end, they sought to block Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer from implementing the law.

According to recall leader attorney Roberts Evans III in the article, the disputed state law has been superseded by the 1995 Louisiana Supreme Court decision that allowed campaigners to gather signatures for their petitions 100 feet from the polling places. Hence, the "the 600-foot rule” has been in place unjustly for years.

However, shortly before the Dec. 10 elections, Judge Stephen Enright Jr. of the 24th Judicial District Court rejected the recall sponsors’ claims and upheld the state law on politicking, according to a Dec. 5 article by The Advocate. Apart from the judge, the 600-foot law was also supported by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

"The attorney general is obligated to defend laws passed by our Legislature and enacted by our governor. Consistent with opinions from two prior attorneys general, General Landry believes the electioneering law is constitutional. The attorney general's role in this matter has always been legally limited to defending a law whose constitutionality was called into question and to representing the registrar of voters as required by law,” Landry's press secretary, Ruth Wisher, said in a statement, according to the The Times-Picayune.

Last fall, Yenni faced intense backlash when it was revealed that he had been sharing allegedly improper texts with a 17-year-old boy. The scandal was exposed prior to the November elections in a WWL-TV report about Yenni being investigated by the FBI over the alleged texts. The Jefferson Parish community erupted in outrage with several of its members calling for a resignation from their parish president.

For the Yenni recall petitioners to succeed, they would need approximately 90,000 signatures out of the 270,000 residents of Jefferson Parish, according to The Times-Picayune. The deadline to meet this goal is early April.

Volunteer coordinator Mikey Bowler shared with WWL-TV in mid-December that they had gathered 40,000 to 50,000 signatures to that point. Bowler at that time believed that they could still succeed.

According to a Dec. 27 article on The Advocate's website, the next scheduled election in Jefferson Parish is in 2019.

Yenni’s texting scandal made headlines again recently when Alex Daigle, the teenager he shared texts with, wrote a story detailing their illicit relationship. Daigle, who is a freshman at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, gave a statement to and did an interview with The Tab in December explaining why he wrote the article – which was published in The Tab in February 2016 – about his texting relationship with Yenni. Daigle said the article was in “no way meant to be a personal attack” and was written to serve as “an example of dangerous, predatory behaviors within our community that might be overlooked without an active voice making them heard.”

In November, Yenni told Fox 8 that he sent “off-color” texts to Daigle, but that there was no sex or sexual contact between them. Yenni also claimed that some of the allegations in Daigle's article were fictional.

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Organizations in this Story

Jefferson Parish president's office Louisiana Supreme Court