BATON ROUGE — An ethics complaint has been filed against Chauna Banks, accusing the state representative candidate of making a “false campaign statement,” according to documents obtained by UWK.
Banks, an East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilwoman, who is in the runoff for Louisiana House District 63, reportedly distributed a campaign flyer on November 3 with a quote from Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves, stating that she “is precisely the kind of leader District 63 residents need to give voice to their concerns in our state capitol.”
Graves has repeatedly confirmed with UWK that he did not make the quoted statement, nor did he give Banks’ campaign permission to use a quote from him.
John Dauthier, a resident in District 63, filed the complaint on November 10. He references UWK’s reporting in his complaint, as well as correspondence he had with Banks on Facebook Messenger.
In the message exchange from Banks’ account to Dauthier, which was shared with UWK, a person assumed to be Banks acknowledges that the quote was not intended as a campaign endorsement. However, the person claims Graves gave permission to use the statement, a claim Graves denies making or authorizing.
“All I can tell you is that I have a personal relationship with Congressman Garret Graves and his family,” the November 1 message exchange read. “If he had an issue regarding anything concerning my campaign, he would contact me personally.”
The complaint alleges that Banks’ actions may be a violation under the Louisiana revised statute 42:1130.4 which says “No candidate in an election shall, with the intent to mislead the voters, distribute or cause to be distributed any oral, visual, or written material containing any statement which he knows makes a false statement about another candidate in the election.”
The complaint also alleges that Banks never denied that the flyer came from her campaign and instead “justified it.”
If a violation is found by the Louisiana Board of Ethics, a penalty could be assessed against Banks. It is unclear what impact this could have on the upcoming November 18 election.
UWK reached out to Banks for comment. Banks responded with the following bible verse: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD. – Isaiah 54:17 NKJV
Banks is running against longtime incumbent State Representative Barbara Carpenter. Carpenter garnered 41% of the vote in the October primary, while Banks received 33% of the vote. Republican Christopher Lemoine was defeated with 26% of the vote.