UPDATE: Perry’s allegations about Moreno have now landed him in court.
In addition to the accusation that Moreno is guilty of vehicular homicide and that the NOPD covered it up, made yesterday in a release, Perry has also put out a direct mail piece which alleges that Moreno was fired from WDSU-TV and has a drinking problem. Moreno didn’t take kindly to those accusations and filed a lawsuit against Perry late yesterday afternoon. Moreno’s suit isn’t the only one coming out of the District 93 campaign; third-place finisher Louis Charbonnet, a lifelong Democrat who received the endorsement of a local Republican group (no GOP candidate entered the race in the primary), is also preparing a suit against Perry for a rather over-the-top direct-mail piece on Charbonnet distributed in advance of the April 28 primary festooned with Republican logos which said Charbonnet was a “Republican for District 93” and a “Republican sympathizer.
Moreno has a press conference today in which she announced she was cancelling her participation in a debate with Perry to be taped tonight and aired on WDSU-TV Sunday (“I decided … that I will not be sitting in the same room as Mr. Perry,” she said). The Times-Picayune picks up the story:
Moreno’s legal complaint, filed Thursday in Civil District Court, claims that Perry violated the state election code by making false claims about her, causing “irreparable injury.” It asks a judge to order Perry to discontinue the “damaging conduct” and fine him $500, the maximum allowed, plus legal fees. No hearing date has been set.
Moreno on Friday also addressed a news release Perry issued Thursday that raises questions about a 2002 traffic accident.
Though Moreno was not cited in the Central City crash, in which a passenger in another vehicle was killed when that car blew through a red light and collided with Moreno’s SUV, Perry says the incident report alleges “negligent homicide and apparent preferential treatment.”
In dredging up one of the most painful experiences of her life, Moreno said, “I feel that in a way he has almost abused me.”
Flanking Moreno at the news conference were defense attorney Vinny Mosca, whose daughter-in-law drove the car that collided with Moreno’s at the Carondelet Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and former WDSU-TV colleague Kris Fairbairn, who recalled rushing to the scene of the crash and attested that police records indicate Moreno was not at fault.
Mosca said Perry’s move to rehash the crash nearly eight years later, “shows a lack of respect, a lack of integrity, a lack of decency, not only to the people involved but also to the constituents of the community that has to hear this.”
Addressing the other matters in her lawsuit, Moreno said documents prove she voluntarily left WDSU-TV after the first year of a three-year contract and agreed not to work for a competitor during the period covered by the deal.
As for a photo that features her mixing drinks at a bar, Moreno said the image was captured while she was volunteering as a “celebrity bartender” at a charity event for Girls First, which raises money to help girls attend summer camp. She added that she is not addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Perry responded to the lawsuit by saying he expects to win in court and then offered this rather unusual nugget:
“More important … than what Miss Moreno is disputing is what she is not disputing,” said Perry, who is executive director of a fair-housing agency. “She’s not disputing the fact that she has no relevant experience or achievements with regards to contributions to our community.”
Election Day is May 29.
ORIGINAL POST: Last week, the opening salvos in the May 29 runoff between Democrats Helena Moreno and James Perry in New Orleans’ House District 93 race were fired when the Moreno campaign released opposition research indicating that Perry had well over 100 traffic violations and parking tickets on his record, including a pair of bench warrants.
This week, Perry has fired back at Moreno, with a shot significantly below the belt.
Perry’s campaign released a ham-fisted accusation against Moreno Thursday, citing an October 2002 incident in which Moreno admitted to driving 35 MPH in a 25 MPH zone before striking another vehicle which had run a red light at the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Carondelet Street in New Orleans’ Garden District.
A passenger in the other car, a Honda Accord, died of injuries sustained in the wreck with Moreno’s Jeep Cherokee. Perry’s campaign release makes a thinly-veiled accusation of vehicular homicide, citing an accident report by the NOPD which notes that had Moreno not been speeding (it was her estimate of a 35 MPH speed the report is based on), the accident “may not have happened.” Perry’s release amends “may” to say “would” in its conclusions, and further implies that some sort of cover-up was afoot that night…
Through information obtained from the Uniform Motor Vehicle Crash Report, “against police protocol Moreno was transported to Ochsner Foundation Hospital by 6th District NOPD officers instead of riding in an ambulance, in addition the required field sobriety tests was not administered on site. ”
Moreno was a TV personality for WDSU-TV at the time of the accident.
Another copy of Perry’s release cited by the New Orleans Times-Picayune has a headline which refers to an “accident report involving alleged negligent homicide and apparent preferential treatment.” The Picayune story carries Moreno’s response to Perry’s charges:
In a statement released late Thursday by Moreno’s campaign, the candidate said Perry had “crossed the line of decency and decorum in a way that is shocking and appalling.”
Calling the crash “the most haunting (event) of my life,” Moreno accused Perry of “preying on a tragedy” for political gain.
“Over the past few hours, an organized campaign spewing scurrilous information about me has been launched,” said Moreno, who plans a news conference Friday. “It is despicable, and should have no place in any political campaign. My opponent has taken it upon himself to rewrite history in a way that is both disturbing and disgusting.”
Perry’s background as a “fair housing advocate” connected with rowdy demonstrations against the closure of housing projects like the St. Thomas and St. Bernard developments and with collaborative efforts with far-left groups like the Iron Rail Book Collective, several of whose members Perry was Facebook friends with as of a month ago, to rebuild Charity Hospital have given him a reputation as a rough-and-tumble figure among the New Orleans far left. Whether Perry is an Alinskyite in true form, his campaign tactics of accusing his opponent of vehicular homicide and the NOPD of covering it up certainly smack of the bare-knuckles Chicago style of today’s Hard Left.
One might argue that Moreno brought Perry’s attack down on herself by releasing his driving record. An accusation of vehicular homicide when no such violation was alleged by the New Orleans Police seems a bit beyond the pale.