There’s still almost a year to go before New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro will have to face down opponents to win another term in office, but there’s already a political group trying to defeat him.
People Over Politics, a political action committee formed to support Gov. John Bel Edwards in the 2019 governor’s race, has turned its aim on Cannizzaro. The group has sponsored a billboard on Interstate 10 calling him to task for the high rate of misdemeanor domestic violence cases dropped by his office.
The billboard has a simple black background with red letters claiming “D.A. drops 80% of domestic violence cases” above the hashtag #MoveOnLeon.
The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office dropped charges in nearly 90% of the misdemeanor domestic violence cases it closed over the past…
The group’s ad is based on an analysis done for the City Council of how the District Attorney’s Office handles misdemeanor domestic violence cases. The analysis found that charges were dropped in nearly 90% of such cases that prosecutors closed over the past two years.
The billboard’s figure of 80% is based on a story by The Lens on those statistics that also included cases that are still pending, reducing the overall percentage of dropped cases.
Jennifer Greene, an attorney working for the political action committee, said the ad is just the first salvo from People Over Politics. The group also plans to highlight the use by Cannizzaro’s office of fake “subpoenas” to persuade witnesses to testify — a practice that sparked a federal civil rights lawsuit and condemnation from a number of prosecutors around the U.S.
“The priorities of this DA’s Office are not right for the city and certainly not for the women in this city,” Greene said.
The District Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment about the billboard, though Cannizzaro has previously responded to criticism from the City Council by arguing that misdemeanor domestic violence cases are difficult to prosecute, in large part because the presumed victims often decide not to testify.
In early December, in the wake of council criticism, he met with advocates for victims of domestic violence, though the advocates later distanced themselves from a press release his office put out claiming they were siding with him rather than the City Council.
Cannizzaro has called for a “domestic violence summit” with other city leaders in mid-January to discuss the issue.
A week after being castigated by New Orleans City Council members for dropping the vast majority of misdemeanor domestic violence cases brough…
Cannizzaro is up for re-election in 2020, though he hasn’t yet said publicly whether he plans to run. Councilman Jason Williams has declared that he will challenge Cannizzaro.
People Over Politics supported Edwards during his successful re-election bid, paying for a billboard in the same location and paying for canvassers during the race.
The current version of the group is not affiliated with the Edwards campaign, Greene said. Leftover money collected by People Over Politics as part of the gubernatorial race was sent on to Edwards’ leadership PAC, and the group has secured new funding for the district attorney’s race, she said.
A list of donors to the group was not immediately available. The group’s chairman is Anthony Marullo, a real estate developer.
The organization is not supporting any specific candidate against Cannizzaro, Greene said.