by Kevin Allman
Earlier today, House District 93 candidate Helena Moreno filed a lawsuit against her opponent, James Perry, accusing Perry of violating Louisiana election code by distributing a flyer saying Moreno "has not held steady work since her contract was not renewed" by WDSU-TV, where Moreno was a reporter/anchor. Moreno contends she left the station of her own volition and that she's worked steadily sin.
Tonight Moreno's spokesman, Greg Buisson, confirmed that Moreno would be holding a press conference Friday morning at the offices of Bruno & Bruno, where she would be amending and expanding today's lawsuit to include further charges against Perry, relating to a 17-page police report from 2002 which was emailed anonymously last night to New Orleans media and bloggers with a note: "I thought you would enjoy the read :-)".
The report detailed an three-car accident in which Moreno's SUV struck a Honda Accord which had run a red light; a passenger in the other driver's car was killed. Police found the red-light runner at fault; Moreno was questioned, but never charged in the matter.
This afternoon, Perry campaign spokesman Alex Morgan remailed the report along with an official press release quoting Perry:
I find the tragic facts disclosed in this report very troubling. The thing I find most disturbing is the fact that Ms. Moreno seems to have put her own professional ambition ahead of the health, well-being and the very life of another person. Who among us would not have called 9-1-1 first before giving a lead story to our [sic] news desk?
In the police report, NOPD officer Edwin A. Ducote Jr. quotes Moreno as having tried to dial 911 on her cellphone immediately after the accident "but received no response." The report says Moreno's next call was to her then-employer, WDSU-TV, where she requested an assignment editor notify the police. Perry's statement also calls into the question of Moreno's rate of speed and sobriety; the 8-year-old police report, filed by Ducote, concludes the "primary causative factor of this crash is Operator Error," but adds, "Had Ms. Helena Moreno been traveling at or below the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour instead of the estimated speed of 35 miles per hour as per her own admission, the crash may not have occurred." Moreno was never charged with a crime in the incident.
"The real purpose for [the press conference]," Buisson told Gambit, is because Perry threw a press release out there calling into question Helena's actions at this accident." Buisson added that a member of the family whose car ran the red light would be on hand to lend support to Moreno, "and we're waiting to hear from NOPD."
Tonight Gambit, which had endorsed Perry in the District 93 primary in a field of six contenders, offered no recommendation in the May 29 runoff, saying "In their runoff campaigns, the candidates have brought forth disturbing accusations against one another, and recent revelations about both cause us to take no position in this race. That this race has come down to two seriously flawed candidates is a shame, considering the economic importance of this district."