Updated below —
In the comments section of this post Richard notes:
Interesting in that Andrew Gressett played the hidden doctor in the Dwight McKenna commercial against Minyard. Yup the same Andrew Gressett that Mauberret threw in the race to try and take votes away from Lemle.
Indeed, I hadn’t realized it the few dozen times I marveled at McKenna’s campaign ad but I think Richard might be right.
Dr. FrankenMinyard does bear a striking resemblance to long shot candidate for tax assessor Andrew Gressett. Compared to other perennial bottom-of-the-ballot citizen candidates, Gressett has effectively parlayed his bid into something of a professional meddling operation.
In his campaign for assessor, for instance, his singular raison-d’etre seems to be to attack fellow candidate Janis Lemle, deputy assessor for the Sixth district. A smear flier circulating Uptown delivered by an unregistered political action committee alleges that Lemle “violated state law by using public phones (in the assessor’s office) for campaigning” and cites the Alliance for Good Government forum as proof that such a violation occurred. I attended that forum and this incident was indeed discussed – when Gressett tossed the allegation out there during his opening remarks without offering any evidence to substantiate it. (Full disclosure: I worked briefly worked on the Lemle campaign as a consultant on technical issues.)
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the smear flier or the Citizens for Fair Assessments organization that mailed it out and the organization remains unregistered and off the books, according to the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program Web site. Gressett has been criticized for smear fliers in the past. As the last-place finisher against Lemle’s boss, Sixth District assessor Nancy Marshall in 2006, Gressett became involved in the race between Stacy Head and Renee Gill-Pratt for the District B seat on the City Council, by mailing out two well-produced fliers attacking Head. The Times-Picayune (in the archive for Saturday, October 7, 2006) attempted to get in touch with Gressett about why he’d be so interested in assisting Gill-Pratt.
Gressett, who would only correspond via e-mail, said the mailings were the work of his nonprofit, the “PRC,” or Property Rights Commission, which he also calls “New Orleans Original Preservation Group.” (The far better-known Preservation Resource Center has repeatedly emphasized it has no links to Gressett. Gressett, meanwhile, sniffed that he “would appreciate you properly referring to us as the Original PRC” in the future.)
In Gressett’s view, his organization need not file reports because “we are a ‘private entity’ in existence for over 30 years.” Gressett added that he was “providing the ‘voting public’ with accurate information that is a matter of public record, and as our information states ‘pro bono publico’ by a ‘private entity.’ “
It’s not clear how those factors, true or not, might exempt him from state disclosure laws. But don’t try asking Gressett. He tartly told a reporter via e-mail that “there are no cases ‘parallel’ to this one, that is what you ‘wish’ were the case, that fits ‘your agenda.’ “
So Gressett plays nutcase candidate at these debates – “I’ll lower everybody’s assessment” — but given his propensity to kneecap reform candidates, meddle in other elections, and this apparent starring role in the coroner’s race, he might be as much a cynical political operative as he is a perpetual noise machine.
The Lemle campaign has submitted a complaint to the Elections Compliance Unit in the Secretary of State’s office. They seem to believe quite strongly that the smear flier noted above originated with the Claude Mauberret team and their political consultant Bill Schultz, who perhaps-not-so coincidentally stars alongside Andrew Gressett in the attack ad against incumbent coroner Minyard. Schultz played Igor.
“The postage number on the flier is “33,” which strongly suggests the flyer [sic] was printed at and sent from M Press (4100 Howard Avnue, New Orleans, LA 70125). The Mauberret Campaign is the only assessor campaign that has repeatedly used M Press. Additionally, one of the Mauberret Campaign’s chief consultants, Bill Schultz, is not only notorious for producing such slanderous campaign material, but he has frequently done so with M Press.
“We request immediate action against the Mauberret Campaign for the production of the flyer, and an order requiring them to no longer engage in illegal and immoral campaign activities.
The blustery campaign language aside, it is clear the Lemle team strongly believes Mauberret and Bill Schultz are responsible for the flier distributed Uptown last week. Certainly the circumstantial evidence is there but it’s not clear to me how the number “33” fingers M Press. You can see a copy of the smear flier here, on Lemle’s Facebook page.