Karen Carter Peterson Resigns from State Senate, Citing Depression, Gambling Addiction

Courtesy of Karen Carter Peterson’s Facebook Page

After a career of over 20 years, New Orleans-based state senator Karen Carter Peterson announced her resignation today. Louisiana Senate President Paige Cortez confirms that he received Peterson’s resignation Friday morning.

In a statement released on Friday, Peterson cited her mental health, including ongoing struggles with depression and gambling addiction, as her reason for resigning.

“Since 1999, I’ve had the privilege to serve as a member of the Louisiana Legislature offering passionate and vigorous advocacy on behalf of the people of this great state. I am hopeful that my decades of service have had a positive impact on the lives of those for whom I have fought. I truly believe I have helped to advance our beloved state forward. I am proud of my years of service in Baton Rouge and sincerely thank my constituents for giving me the opportunity to represent their interests. I am also very grateful for all of the personal and professional support I have received from my collegues, legislative staff, advocates, friends, and family.

As I’ve previously shared, I have personally struggled wih depression and a gamblind addiction of the entirety of my legislative career; in fact, it has been close to 30 years. At this time, I must place all of my energy on my own mental health and personal well-being, and therefore have tendred my resigation effective immediately.

Today, I am truly blessed to have the things that are most important in life: a loving relationship with my God and my family. I will be focused on my recovery and will continue to address those challenges resulting from my addiction. It is my intention to continue my service in the months and years to come in an area that will help others avoid the devastation, guilt, shame, and pain of this insidious disease. I humbly ask for prayers and support as I continue my journey of recovery and redemption. God Bless the State of Louisiana.”

In March 2019, Peterson publicly admitted to a gambling addiction after a summons she received for remaining at a Baton Rouge casino was leaked to the press. According to Peterson, the summons was a result of a confidential state program she had voluntarily entered that was designed to help people with gambling addictions stay out of casinos. While colleagues were surprised to learn of her gambling addiction, many supported her, saying it did not compromise her ability to serve as an elected official and they hoped that she would continue to serve on the Judiciary B Committee. Republican Senator John Alario said at the time that Senator Peterson’s personal struggles would be valuable since it gave her a perspective that other members didn’t have. The following year, as a Louisiana senator, Peterson used her veto authority over governor appointees to oust Ronnie Jones, then-chairman of the state gambling board. Peterson’s veto also targeted four other appointees, including Walt Leger II, who lost his position as chairman of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

In 2021, Big Easy Magazine endorsed Senator Peterson for Congress, but she ultimately lost in a run-off election to then-state Senator Troy Carter.


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