Third Judicial District Attorney John Belton’s office says it did not find any legal grounds to challenge Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell’s re-election bid as requested by a local attorney earlier this week
As first reported by Lincoln Parish News Online, Ruston attorney Heath Hattaway asked Belton’s office to investigate whether state law prevented Campbell from seeking a fourth term in office.
During qualifying last week, Campbell, a Democrat from Bossier City, drew two opponents: Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Shane Smiley, a Republican from Monroe, and Ouachita Parish School Board member Scotty Waggoner, a Republican from West Monroe.
According to Hattaway’s letter, Campbell illegally qualified because of term limits imposed on members of the Public Service Commission in the state Constitution.
“Foster Campbell is prohibited by law from becoming a candidate for the Public Service Commission because he has served more than two and one-half (2 1/2) terms in three (3) consecutive terms at the time of qualification,” stated Hattaway’s July 27 letter to Belton’s office.
Under state law, any registered voter may present evidence that a candidate illegally qualified for elective office. The district attorney investigates that evidence before determining whether to challenge the person’s candidacy in court.
Assistant District Attorney Laurie James, with Belton’s office, told The Ouachita Citizen on Tuesday they had investigated Hattaway’s complaint and informed the attorney of the results of their investigation. Of Campbell’s candidacy, James said, “We did not find enough evidence to challenge his candidacy.”
Hattaway’s letter noted that Campbell was first elected to the Public Service Commission in 2002 and was later re-elected in October 2008 and November 2014.
Under the Constitution, the term limit provision does not apply to any person elected to the commission before November 2008 — when the constitutional amendment was first approved by the voters.
“In doing my research, that 2008 amendment did not apply to anyone who was in office,” James said. “The legal question hinges on that amendment not being applicable.”