New Orleans’ Hughes, Crawford Appeal After Candidacies Disqualified

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two candidates seeking to serve as state representatives for districts in New Orleans have been disqualified for failing to file state tax returns, though both cases are being appealed.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Jeff Adelson reports Jason Hughes, who is seeking to succeed state Rep. Austin Badon in District 100, is fighting to stay on the Oct. 24 primary ballot after a Civil District Court judge disqualified him for failing to file a tax return in 2010.

         Ray Crawford was disqualified from his run to succeed state Rep. Wesley Bishop in District 99 after a judge ruled he failed to file a return in 2012.

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         All candidates have to certify that they filed their taxes, sought an extension or were not required to file taxes for the past five years.

         A third candidate, Eustis Guillemet, was also disqualified after a judge found he did not meet the residency requirement to run against state Rep. Joe Bouie in District 97.

         Hughes is appealing the decision by Civil District Judge Christopher Bruno. The challenge came after another candidate in the race, Willie Jones, requested verification that Hughes had filed taxes for the past five years and was told a return was on file for only one of those years, 2013.

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         The case against Hughes was brought by Derselene Nixon.

         Bruno ruled that Hughes had filed for an extension for his 2014 taxes and that, because he was unemployed during 2011 and 2012, he was not required to file a tax return those years. However, he found that Hughes should have filed in 2010, when he was working for both the city and Southern University and made between $60,000 and $70,000.

         Hughes told the court that he believed he had filed that return and was only informed that he hadn't during a meeting with his campaign staff. Bruno also noted that Hughes had testified he did not believe he had to file if he was owed money by the government.

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         Bruno ruled that under Internal Revenue Service regulations, Hughes should have filed a return that year, and he suggested that as director of federal regulations for New Orleans under Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Hughes should have known about that requirement.

         "The fact that an individual may ultimately not owe taxes does not excuse his failure to file a tax return," Bruno wrote in his decision.

         Hughes said Friday he could not comment extensively on the case because it was still in litigation but that he had "nothing to hide."

         "Basically, it's coming down to 2010 and coming down to a technicality with the affidavit, and this is being spearheaded by Willie Jones, who is a candidate in the race and has run unsuccessfully several times," he said.

         Others seeking to replace Badon, who is prevented by term limits from running again, include John Bagneris, Shawn Lockett and Alicia Plummer Clivens. All the candidates are Democrats.

         A notice of appeal has also been filed in Crawford's case. In that case, brought by Dionisha and Derrick Graham, records from the Louisiana Department of Revenue showed Crawford did not file a tax return in 2012, Civil District Court Judge Regina Woods ruled.

         While Woods' ruling notes that Crawford said he had filed a return and received a $17 refund, it also notes he did not present evidence of that in court. Crawford's tax preparer also testified that the taxes had been filed but was unable to provide transcripts showing that was the case.

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