There’s an interesting state legislative race going on in the Monroe, Louisiana area. A state senate seat has opened up, and two gentlemen are running for it. The first is Jim Fannin, a guy who is leaving the House (term limits) to run for the Senate. The guy who is leaving the seat has endorsed him and is putting a lot of stock into his campaign. The other guy is Stewart Cathey, a former IT specialist and served in Afghanistan for six years under the U.S. Army.

The race is close. So close that we really can see it go either way. Fannin’s fiscal policy as chair of the House Appropriations Committee makes his claim to be a Republican laughable at best.  Cathey is running as the conservative in the race and has blasted both Fannin and the original holder of the seat, Bob Kostelka.

Cathey was arrested recently. Why? A $25 seatbelt ticket that went upaid. Why did it go unpaid? He went to Afghanistan shortly afterward. Here’s an excerpt from Cathey’s statement:

All of this is what brings us here today, and most likely, were I not a candidate for the State Senate I would never have even remembered that I had been issued a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt.
Had it not been for my opponent and his political supporters and advisors reminding me of this ticket on September 11th, the day after qualifying, and making it an issue in this campaign, I likely would never have even remembered it. Over the last 6 years, I have not received any paperwork documenting that there was ever a warrant. During this time I have been able to renew my driver’s license and purchase vehicles without my license being flagged due to a warrant, nor has anything related to this issue ever come up.

Since being reminded of this ticket by my opponents, I have exhausted all efforts to try to pay the fines or penalties associated with it, because I am admitting I made a mistake, and I want to and am willing to pay any fines in order to make this right as is normally the way a situation like this is handled. But for some reason I am being denied the right to simply pay my fine and penalties, and I am instead being forced to be arrested, and required to bond out over a simple seat belt violation from 6 years ago. It has become apparent to me that my opponents will stop at nothing to protect their candidates and the good ole boy system, even to the point of abusing the justice system.

Scott McKay over at The Hayride provides a little more here:

Kostelka also put out a statement denying any involvement. “Obviously, I have no control over Monroe City Court or Judge Lee,” he said. “No one attacked this young man and no action was taken because there was nothing to gain from this. I don’t understand why the court wouldn’t give him another court date. Remember, Cathey called the media and staged this with supporters in tow. It is ugly politics but orchestrated by Cathey.”

He also said he’d “heard” that Cathey had outstanding tickets in Tennessee and somewhere else in Louisiana, though one wonders how Kostelka would have known that.

[…]

The arrest has been seen among social media commenters mostly as either an excessive case of law-enforcement bureaucracy or an abuse by the Ouachita Parish courthouse gang for political purposes, and it might well end up as a classic case of a dirty trick backfiring.

Kostelka’s accusation that Cathey orchestrated the media attention coming out of his arrest might be a recognition of the potential mess, though he denied any involvement (which no one seems to believe) and why wouldn’t Cathey try to frame media coverage of the arrest for his benefit?

Of course, the entire thing seems so downright suspicious. Kostelka has ties to the Ouachita sheriff’s office, is a long time politician from the area, and he and Fannin have both been hot topics in Cathey’s race. Their time in Baton Rouge has led to some pretty big fiscal issues in the state, and they don’t like being called out on it. It is not entirely unheard of for some connections to be used in this way, and to be fair that’s probably pretty mild for Louisiana’s reputation.