The man who oversees Louisiana elections, Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin, brazenly violated a state law that specifically and uniquely applies to his office when he appeared at a campaign rally held by President Donald Trump last Wednesday in Monroe, according to multiple legal experts familiar with the state’s Election Code.
According to La. R.S. 18:18.2, the Secretary of State is prohibited from publicly campaigning or participating in any activity in support of any candidate other than himself. Quoting (emphasis added):
§18.2. Certain political activities prohibited; secretary of state
A. The secretary of state may participate or engage in political activity related to his own candidacy for election to public office, including soliciting contributions for his campaign and taking an active part in the management of the affairs of his campaign and his principal campaign committee. He may also exercise his right as a citizen to express his opinion privately and to cast his vote as he desires. The secretary of state shall not participate or engage in any other political activity, including the candidacy of any other person for election to public office; membership on any other national, state, or local committee of a political party or faction; making or soliciting contributions for any political party, faction, or other candidate; or taking active part in the management of the affairs of a political party, faction, other candidate, or any other political campaign.
B. As used in this Section, the term “political activity” shall have the meaning ascribed to it in Article X, Section 9(C) of the Constitution of Louisiana.
The state Constitution defines “political activity” as ”an effort to support or oppose the election of a candidate for political office or to support a particular political party in an election.”
Ardoin, who is widely expected to prevail in a runoff election against Democratic candidate Gwen Collins-Greenup, should be intimately familiar with the laws regulating his political activities; indeed, online, the state’s Election Code currently contains a letter he personally signed expressing his “hope” that people will find it a “useful resource.”
Prior to being elected to fill the unexpired term of former Sec. of State Tom Schedler, Ardoin served as Schedler’s top deputy.
Yesterday, he shared a short video of his appearance at the Trump rally on his campaign Facebook page.
The law is designed to ensure the public has faith in the integrity of elections, which is undermined when the person tasked with overseeing those elections engages in political activity outside of his own campaign.
The penalties for violating this particular state statute are unclear, but considering the activities it guards against, unless Sec. Ardoin recuses himself from any role in certifying election results, he may have left his office exposed to legal challenges.