SLIDELL, La. -- For the first time in decades, St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed announced that he will not seek re-election.
The embattled district attorney made the announcement before his staff at a noon meeting. The decision ends Reed's bid to run for a seventh term.
"For the past 30 years I have been deeply privileged to serve the people of Washington and St. Tammany parishes as District Attorney. I have never taken your confidence in me lightly, and have always worked hard to earn and keep your trust. More than words can ever express, I am honored to have served as your chief criminal prosecutor," Reed said in a statement.
Reed, who serves as the district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, which covers St. Tammany and Washington parishes, has held the job since 1984 and has not faced a challenger since 1996.
The subject of a grand jury investigation, Reed has also been the subject of numerous media investigative reports from WWL-TV and the New Orleans Advocate about his use of campaign funds, side jobs he worked as a lawyer and his gold-buying business dealings with a convicted felon.
Reed lashed out about that local media coverage, saying the frequent reports and stories "has repeatedly cast me, my dedicated staff, friends and even my family in a different and harsher light, making an endless series of allegations regarding my character, and creating unwarranted and obtrusive disruptions in the function of my office.
"These allegations have run the gamut, from accusing me of being too tough on crime and too insistent on getting criminal convictions, to how I spend my private campaign donations, to my brother’s employment at the parish hospital, proving nothing it seems, but alleging everything under the sun."
Reed said the reports have caused a distraction for his office, forced him to drop out of the race the office.
"As such it has become apparent to me that such time consuming disruptions will continue," Reed said. "They are not fair to me or the people of St. Tammany and Washington parishes, who have become accustomed to an aggressive and effective District Attorney fully able to focus on the important work of his office."While many attendees of the meeting had no comment, other parish leaders say Reed's decision is a good one. St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister said, "With a cloud of alleged misconduct hanging over that office, it makes it difficult to conduct the people's business day-to-day. With the sitting DA out of the race, for a position he has held for decades, we can move forward with an open field of candidates and ultimately elect a new District Attorney that will lead the office in protecting the citizens of this parish." Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany says it was surprised that the announcement wasn't a resignation and took issue with Reed blaming the media for his decision. There are three candidates that have announced interest in running for DA, none of which Reed says he'll endorse. He's also asked his employees to stay out of the race as well. Reed's term ends in mid-January.