Louisiana Elections Chief Draws Questions About Trump Rally

Nov 13, 2019

The Louisiana secretary of state's appearance at President Donald Trump's rally is raising questions about whether he's run afoul of state law barring the chief elections official from most political activity.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin appeared last week at Trump's Monroe rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone. Ardoin, a Republican, is running against Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup in Saturday's runoff election.

Under Louisiana law, a secretary of state can participate in political activity related to his own campaign, but not to support other candidates.

Ardoin spoke at the rally, declaring Louisiana "will win with Donald Trump." In a video posted to Ardoin's Facebook page, he asked the crowd to chant who it supported for president and governor, without directly saying the responses of Trump and Rispone himself.

Attorney Franz Borghardt tells WAFB-TV that Ardoin's appearance is troubling.

"If you don't believe he is breaking the law, he's certainly tapdancing on the line," Borghardt said. He added: "He is campaigning for the president, which falls into the letter of the statute. He is arguably campaigning for the governor, although that's not as strong of a case."

Ardoin's political adviser Lionel Rainey dismissed suggestions the secretary of state violated the law.

"Secretary Ardoin attended the event with President Trump to accept the president's endorsement for his reelection as secretary of state and to promote his own candidacy as permitted in (the statute)," Rainey said in a statement. "This is a non-issue."