Aimee Boyd Robinson: Petitioning to End a Scofflaw’s Rule

Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope faces seven felony charges — and a recall petition.

Brian Pope was elected Lafayette City Marshal in December 2014, after defeating  Kip Judice in the runoff to succeed longtime incumbent Nickey Picard, whom they’d both defeated in the primary election. The late J.B. Cormier was the fourth candidate in the primary election.

Picard’s time had passed. Pope’s had barely begun when he leapt into the 2015 race for Lafayette Parish Sheriff in support of Scott Chief of Police Chad Leger. It was a fateful decision that might end up ending Pope’s political career with the possibility of jail time ahead of him.

Pope used the power and authority of his office in an attempt to help Leger’s campaign and to hurt Mark Garber’s campaign. Garber won the election. Pope has been dealing with the legal repercussions of his acts since 2015.

Pope then refused to turn over emails believed to be related to his campaign activities on behalf of Leger which were being sought by The Independent. Emails were erased from the marshal’s server but not from Lafayette Consolidated Government’s backup servers. The emails were discovered and Pope was found to have violated the state’s public records law by refusing to comply with the original request.

Later, a Lafayette Parish grand jury indicted Pope on seven felony counts — five counts of malfeasance and two counts of perjury. He’s awaiting trial on those charges and has asked that his trial be delayed until next year.

The Lafayette City Marshal’s office works primarily with Lafayette City Court to enforce bonds, subpoenas and collect fines and fees. Pope, then, is an officer of the court who has found him self being charged (and in some cases convicted) of law violations, has turned his once sedate office into something of a spectacle.

When it was revealed in a deposition related to the original email case that Pope has been personally pocketing fees and garnishments in apparent violation of a 2011 opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General, Aimee Boyd Robinson decided she had had enough of the shenanigans. She recruited Steve Wilkerson and together they decided to launch the campaign to recall Brian Pope.

On June 12, they filed their petition with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office to formalize the process. They have 180 days from that date (December 12) to reach their goal of  getting 1/3 of the voters in the city-wide district to sign a petition to force a recall election on Pope’s tumultuous tenure. That’s about 28,00o signatures. They are half-way into the effort.

If the recall campaign succeeds (signatures will be counted and verified by the Lafayette Registrar of Voters), a recall election asking voters whether they want Pope recalled or not will appear on the ballot in the spring 0f 2018. If voters oust Pope, there will be a special election in the fall of 2018 when anyone (including Pope) can run for what will by that time be the remaining two-plus years of his term.

During that time, Pope’s legal battles will continue roll through the courts, ensuring that the Marshal’s problems remain high visibility news in Lafayette. And there’s still the matter of whether taxpayers can foot the bill for Pope’s legal costs.

Aimee Boyd Robinson discusses the effort to recall Brian Pope in this podcast.