Painter drops out, Cointment is new parish president

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Cointment (left) and Painter participate in a candidate's forum at the Ascension Council on Aging.

Although republican candidate for parish president Clint Cointment received 42% of the vote, he was still going to have to beat fellow republican Murphy Painter in the November 16 runoff.

That was until today when Painter unexpectedly dropped out of the race, making Cointment the next Ascension Parish President.

Although we have not heard from Painter directly as to why he decided to drop out of the race, The Advocate and other news agencies reported that Painter may have been in an awkward spot since The Pelican Post website published an interview claiming to be the voice of Painter on October 18.

The speaker on tape, allegedly Painter, discusses a multiple child rape cover-up as well as a fatal hit and run cover-up involving a drunken former sheriff, presumably Harold Tridico whom Painter worked under as Chief Deputy until 1988.

The Pelican Post is the same Ascension Parish news and opinion website ran by publisher Wade Petite whose posts involving current Parish President Kenny Matassa led to a bribery indictment of Matassa and longtime friend Olin Berthelot. Matassa was ultimately acquitted and the charges subsequently dropped against Berthelot.

Unlike in the case of Matassa, Petite went to the proper authorities with this recording on June 24. Reportedly, the La. State Police declined an investigation based on insufficient evidence and Painter has called this an attempt by Petite to "defame" him.

Perhaps complicating matters for Painter, it has further been reported that Ascension Parish District Attorney Ricky Babin plans to bring Painter before the grand jury to discuss the allegations of child rape that are mentioned in the recording, said to be from two years ago.

Babin told The Advocate that Painter does not face any charges for failure to report a crime because statute of limitations have "long since lapsed."

Lastly, Petite is an unabashed supporter of Cointment, who has used the website to address his constituency directly.