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Sex Scandal-Roiled Louisiana Senate Candidate Sues Poll

Independent candidate sues polling organization for wrongly identifying him as Republican

There are more than two dozen candidates running to replace Louisiana Sen. David Vitter. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images file photo)
There are more than two dozen candidates running to replace Louisiana Sen. David Vitter. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images file photo)

A Louisiana Senate candidate — who is reportedly under federal investigation for allegedly extorting a woman for sex — sued a polling organization Tuesday, claiming that misrepresenting his party is responsible for his foundering campaign.

Troy Hebert, who is running as an independent in a hotly contested race, was wrongly identified as a Republican on a poll used to determine which candidates could participate in local forums, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Forum

Pollster Pinsonat and Southern Media & Opinion Research was lax in its treatment of his campaign in comparison to candidates with more resources, Hebert said in a statement cited by the news magazine.

“Because they belong to a major party and have big money, the rules are different for them,” he said.

Herbert, one of two dozen candidates running to replace Republican David Vitter, switched affiliations from Democrat to independent in 2010, according to court papers filed at a district court cited by the Business Forum. He polled at 2 percent in the survey, with a margin of error of 3.5 percent, causing him to be excluded from two major candidate forums.

[Poll: Boustany, Fleming Trail in Louisiana Senate Race]

Pinsonat, the pollster, told the news magazine that he did not realize when he conducted the poll that Herbert had changed his affiliation. He added that he had no control over how local organizations use the information in the survey, and doesn’t recommend that the polls be used to establish criteria for forums.

“It’s just for public consumption,” he told the news magazine.

Hebert, a former state state senator and former commissioner of the state Alcohol and Tobacco Control Office, was dogged by reports of an FBI investigation when he announced his campaign in January.

That investigation reportedly centered around his alleged sexual relationship with a restaurant owner who was having trouble getting a liquor license for her restaurant.

In a statement issued at the time, Hebert denied doing anything, “illegal and unethical,” saying that he had been targeted by individuals who had, “threatened my life and family for fighting for the good law-abiding taxpayers of our state.”

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