Did Susan Theall Break the Law?

Published 03/15 2017 11:30AM

Updated 03/15 2017 11:44AM

Some experts expected the Third Circuit Court of Appeals race to be a quiet one, but that quickly changed.

Vying for the seat, Vanessa Waguespack Anseman, Candace Perret and Susan Theall. On Monday, Judge Alonzo Harris ruled Vanessa Anseman ineligible to run, but she is appealing.

Last week, KLAF's Chris Welty received a tip from an unnamed source questioning loans from Susan Theall. In 2011, Theall received two loans totaling $70,000. The big question are the loans legal? 

In campaign finance reports dating back to 2011, Susan Theall has two major loans---one for $40,000 and another for $30,000. In the reports, it shows Theall is the one loaning herself the money. But, after digging, Theall admits that's not the case. 

In fact, local businessman Burton Zaunbrecher loaned Theall the money. She deposited the 70-grand into her personal account before loaning her campaign.

"I received a loan from a friend of mine," Theall said. "I've signed a promissory note on that loan and then I loaned that money to my campaign. It was properly recorded with the ethics commission and it was also reported on my financial disclosure." 

Theall didn't disclose that loan as money from Zaunbrecher until 2014 and then again this year. 

Theall said, "If you look at just about any candidate's campaign finance disclosures, you'll see the same kind of loans. It's done fairly often and it's fairly common." 

Online, The Louisiana Ethics Commission website says in Title 18. Louisiana Ethics Code, PART V. PROHIBITED PRACTICES AND

LIMITATIONS; PENALTIES, section 1505.2. Contributions; expenditures; certain prohibitions and limitations: A.(1) No person shall give, furnish, or contribute monies, materials, supplies, or make loans to or in support of a candidate or to any political committee, through or in the name of another, directly or indirectly. 

"Talk to my CPA, but as I understand it, he wanted to make sure everything was properly reported, so he contacted the ethics commission to make sure everything is reported," said Theall.

Theall told KLAF News she is paying back her loan to Zaunbrecher, but she does not know how much money she's paid to date. Theall maintains she did nothing wrong.

"I couldn't tell you the exact amount. I've made some payments, but I haven't paid the entire $70,000," said Theall.

As of now, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office is not investigating Susan Theall's campaign finance reports. We also reached out to multiple attornies who declined on camera interviews saying they don't want to comment on a potential legal issue involving a candidate for judge. 

In 2006, a similar case to Susan Theall was heard in a Louisiana courtroom. 

Corbett Ourso, Jr. took a loan from his dad totaling more than $40,000. He deposited that money into his personal account and then loaned that money to his campaign.

The court ordered him to repay the loan to his dad because Ourso, Jr. violated state campaign finance laws. The court said the loan was "excessive."


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