Put this one under "the good ol' boy network" in Louisiana politics. It seems that Stewart Cathey, a veteran of the United States armed services, was arrested last week for an unpaid seatbelt violation. However, the kicker in this story is that Cathey, who inadvertently overlooked the ticket while preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, was willing to pay the fines and fees associated with the ticket, but was ordered to jail by Judge Tammy D. Lee. Could this possibly be politically motivated? Well, Cathey's opponent in this race is none other than recent Republican Party switch, Jim "Big Lake" Fannin, who is running to succeed Bob Kostelka.
Col. Rob Maness, former candidate for the Louisiana Senate seat in DC, had this to say regarding Cathey in his endorsement:
“I call for an investigation for impeachment against Judge Tammy D. Lee, the official who forced the arrest, and an ethics investigation into Cathey’s opponent, State Representative Jim “Big Lake” Fannin and current Senator Bob Kostelka who apparently had information on the seatbelt charge and arrest before Cathey even knew about it," said Maness.
Maness added, "I respectfully call on the LA GOP leadership, all elected officials and veterans in Louisiana to condemn these career politicians, withdraw all support for them and endorse Mr. Cathey. Is this really how we are going to treat our heroes?”
Cathey issued the following statement last week when he was arrested and subsequently bonded out:
Let me first say thank you to everyone for being here today to support me. As many of you are now aware, in September of 2009, I was issued a ticket by the City of Monroe for not wearing my seatbelt. Eight short days later, I deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the US Army where I spent the next year fighting for the country we all love and hold so dear.While I was in Afghanistan, I honestly forgot about my seatbelt ticket, because as one might imagine that was the furthest thing from my mind. My mind was focused on keeping my team mates safe, keeping myself alive and getting back home to my family, just as is the case with any soldier who as every been fortunate enough to wear our nations uniform. Thankfully, the Lord allowed me to come home and gave me the opportunity to find new ways to serve my state and country. Is my serving my nation overseas an excuse, or a crutch, ABSOLUTELY not, I would never use my service to my nation as an excuse! This is nothing more than me simply forgetting to pay a ticket during a very stressful time in my life.
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 advisers 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.
I hope and pray that the voters of District 35 will not be distracted by this issue, but instead hear my message: Louisiana needs new leadership in Baton Rouge to right the ship from the mess that my opponent has created.
I hope that you, the voters, will understand that while I was serving in combat overseas, the furthest thing from my mind was a seatbelt violation. My full concentration and attention was on my mission of keeping America safe by defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban, supporting my fellow troops, and coming back home safely. This type of treatment is what we are seeing all over America right now when our service men and women return home from war, and it is another example that we have to support our Veterans, who have sacrificed so much.
What we're seeing today is the ugly side of politics. People ask me all the time why I'd want to get involved in something so nasty and underhanded.
Ironically, this situation is exactly why I'm running. The career politicians like Jim Fannin will clearly stop at nothing to get back to the good ole boys club in Baton Rouge. We don't need people who will stoop to such cutthroat tactics. We need real leadership to turn this state around.
Just as I served my country around the world now I want to serve my state in the Senate. I need your support and most importantly I need your prayers. We deserve better than what we've had, and I hope you can trust that I'm the man for the job.
Is this the way we thank our veterans that serve our country day in and day out? Or, better yet, is this how scared the elite in this state really are about holding onto their sacred cows? Voters of this state should not stand for this and should throw out all of "the good ol' boys" in Louisiana this fall.