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Hunt's Paper Trail 

Last month, Clarence A. Hunt Jr., a repatriated California businessman and New Orleans native opposed to Mayor Marc Morial's bid for a third term, reportedly told The Times-Picayune: "I'm coming down to shake things up."

Hunt's return to his hometown as executive director of Citizens to Preserve the Charter has left a paper trail, however. Anonymously mailed packets of documents pertaining to Hunt's personal and financial life in Oakland have turned up in local newsrooms recently. Gambit Weekly received papers relative to Hunt's 1997 consumer bankruptcy filing, state and federal tax liens against him, and a personal restraining order he obtained against a former girlfriend five years ago.

"All of those tax lien issues were resolved favorably to myself," Hunt says. He adds his federal bankruptcy was "resolved favorably as well."

In fact, Hunt is only partly correct. Hunt still has not paid off California state tax liens of $32,973 for five taxable years ending in 1992, according to Denise Azimi, a spokesperson for the California Franchise Tax Board in Sacramento, Calif. "That lien is still good and outstanding," Azimi said last week. "But probably if you try back in couple of weeks things might change. We are working with the taxpayer [Hunt] right now."

Federal bankruptcy records, meanwhile, support Hunt's claims his debts there have been resolved. A check of records for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of California (Oakland) shows that Hunt filed for protection from his creditors under Chapter 7 on Nov. 13, 1997. Hunt filed for a total of $546,902, including $246,900 owed to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Hunt listed no assets. He met with his creditors one month later. The case was dismissed by the bankruptcy court judge on May 8, 1998. Four federal tax liens on Hunt's Oakland home were also dismissed.

In 1996, Hunt went to Alameda County Superior Court and filed for a restraining order against his estranged girlfriend, a 29-year-old woman who was an employee of his business at the time she allegedly attacked him, documents show. In written statements, Hunt told authorities that the woman physically attacked him in his home after he "refused to have sex with her." Hunt added that he fired the woman after the incident, but that she threatened to disrupt his business. A Superior Court judge issued a restraining order against the woman one month later, records show.

Hunt says his personal life and financial dealings have no relevance to his group's crusade against the mayor's bid for a third term. "I don't see where that's relevant to anything that I'm doing with respect to the third term opposition," he says. He also suspects "the Morial camp" is behind the anonymous mail-outs: "Those are typical tactics used by a frightened and nervous mayor who is trying to hold onto his desk by his fingernails, knowing that the tidal wave of opposition is going to sweep him out of office very shortly along with all of his cronies."

Graymond Martin, an adviser to the mayor and an attorney for the pro-Morial group, People for Continued Progress, emphatically denies Hunt's allegation: "I can tell you unequivocally that I know of no one who sent that information out. And it wasn't done on behalf of the mayor or People for Continued Progress."

But Martin adds that Hunt's personal background is relevant to the battle over the October charter election, which Hunt is challenging in court. "When people assume the position of public advocates they have to be able to withstand a scrutiny of their character," Martin says.

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