Brown-Aubert Race Heats Up In Senate District 2 With Accusations About A Billboard

The majority-black Senate District 2 race, which went to a runoff between state rep. Elton Aubert and businessman Troy Brown, is one of the more heavily-contested in Louisiana. Both are Democrats, which means the race will be an intraparty fight not over philosophy but personality.

And thus it’s no surprise that the dirt is flying.

The Aubert camp is taking a shot at Brown on ethical grounds, as a press release this week makes clear.

It appears that Troy Brown, a candidate in the November 19 Senate District 2 runoff election has withheld information that by law must be reported on his Campaign Finance Reports.

Brown has roadside billboards advertising his candidacy at the following locations:

1        On LA 1 across from Walmart in Port Allen.

2        On the Southeast corner of the intersection of LA 308 and LA 20 in Thibodaux.

3        West side of the river on LA 3213 near Vacherie.

4        LA 70 just west of the Sunshine Bridge in Donaldsonville.

The law requires Mr. Brown to report how much his campaign paid for these signs.  Because the signs were up months before qualifying, he should have reported the expenditure prior to the October election. His 2011 campaign finance reports are available here.

The reports contain no report of any billboard expenses.  Since billboards are commonly used in political campaigns, it seemed curious that Mr. Brown wouldn’t report this expenditure.

It is doubtful that he was simply negligent or doesn’t understand the campaign finance reporting requirements, since when he ran for the House in 2007 he reported nearly $10,000 in billboard expenditures on his 30-P report filed September 19, 2007.  That report is accessible here.

Could Brown be trying to hide something? And if so, what?

Roadside billboards rent for upwards of $1,000 per month, not counting the printing costs of the signs (est. $600 per sign).  Rental agreements usually run for at least 6 months.  Based on these numbers, it is possible Mr. Brown has failed to report expenditures in excess of $24,000.

This photo shows Mr. Brown’s construction business advertised on the sign on LA 70:

This photo of the same sign taken last week advertises his candidacy:

This billboard was advertising Mr. Brown’s construction business for at least six months prior to advertising his campaign.

Could it be that Mr. Brown’s business paid to rent the sign for a year or more, and he simply changed the sign’s message from advertising his business to advertising his campaign?  If that’s the case, then he is required to report all expenses related to the campaign advertisement as an in-kind contribution from his business to his campaign.  He has not reported this.

And he may have another problem:  He cannot accept more than $2,500 from a single source during an election. Given the setup costs and monthly fees associated with. billboard rental, it is obvious that the costs of these four signs would far exceed that limit.

Also consider that Mr. Brown’s company would benefit when he files his income tax returns, because the cost of advertising is deductible as a business expense and therefore exempt from both state and federal income taxation.  However, an in-kind contribution to a political campaign is not a legitimate business expense and is not deductible.  If Mr. Brown’s company attempts to deduct these campaign expenditures as a business expense, he should have some issues with both the IRS and Louisiana Department of Revenue.

Perhaps he didn’t know or understand the campaign finance laws or maybe he was just negligent.  Or maybe there is more to this than meets the eye.

There’s a bit more as well, as a pastor in Schriever named Leo Brown is circulating a letter about dealings with Troy Brown which raise an eyebrow…

The honesty, integrity and basic character of those we elect to represent us in government are very important to all of us. Because these traits are so important, I am compelled to share my dealings with Troy Brown, who wants to be our state Senator.

In November of last year, our church was considering taking ownership of the St. Charles Manor apartment complex in Thibodaux, which had been marked for demolition by the owner at the request of the LaFourche Parish Council. Our plan was to renovate the complex and put it back into commerce to benefit both our church and the community at large.

The owner agreed to donate the property to our church, but before we could continue we needed to know whether this project was viable. We asked three construction companies to provide estimates for the renovation costs. Regretfully, one of the companies we used was Troy Brown Construction, owned and operated by Troy Brown, one of the candidates in the runoff for Senate District 2.

However, Troy Brown never gave our church an estimate. Instead, he struck a deal with the property owner that made Troy Brown the owner of the complex. Brown got the complex, and the church got betrayed.

“Alexander the coppersmith (Troy Brown) did us much evil: The Lord reward him according to his works.” (2 Timothy 4:14)

This gives us a look at Troy Brown’s honesty, integrity and basic character, and frankly it doesn’t look good. We cannot tell a man’s character by slick advertisements and roadside billboards, but we sure can learn a lot about a man’s character by what he does.

“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Prov. 20:11).

Is this the type person we want representing us in the state senate? I would pray that he is not. Troy Brown deceitfully and unethically took a church’s donation for his personal enrichment, what do you think he would do if elected?

The race promises to get even nastier in the coming days, as the two candidates are neck and neck.

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