Murphy Painter resigns from race for Ascension Parish Sheriff

Monday, September 12, 2011 - 6:00pm

THIS IS A FOX44 NEWS UPDATE: The former commissioner of Alcohol and Tobacco control won't be the next Ascension Parish Sheriff. The Secretary of State's Office says painter dropped out of the race this morning. Due to the fact that qualifying is over, current Sheriff Jeff Wiley will stay in that position for at least the next four years.

ORIGINAL STORY: ASCENSION PARISH, La (FOX44) — Former Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner, Murphy Painter, will run for Ascension Parish Sheriff. He's throwing his hat into the ring to take on current sheriff, Jeff Wiley. The two men have faced off before for the same position back in 1995. Wiley won out with 51% of the vote.

In February, the Inspector General's office released a report, stating that while Painter worked for the ATC, he ran illegal background checks on private citizens, government employees, and in some cases, their families. He was also accused of sexually harassing several ATC employees, resulting in lawsuits.

Some Ascension Parish residents were surprised after learning of Murphy Painter's intentions to run for sheriff.

"I definitely wouldn't vote for him," says Michelle McCloud. "I think that's information that everyone needs to know."

Fredrick Foreman agrees. "I think its funny. It's a little bit stupid. I think he needs to clear his name before he runs for anything," he says.

Painter allegedly ran background checks on Baton Rouge attorney, Jill Craft. She has represented several former ATC employees in sexual harassment lawsuits against Painter. "My concern is that you have the fox watching the henhouse, only on a much larger scale," she says.

Craft says the allegations against him raise some red flags, especially when it comes to running for sheriff. "They involve allegations of misuse of what was then, a limited police power. And now, he's running for a position with unlimited policing power."

Not everyone agrees. "I think he does have some good qualities," says Barry Taylor. "I'm going to leave it to the past, you know. Everybody can change."

Neither Painter, nor Wiley, were available for comment.

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