Thursday, April 06, 2006
La. lawmaker says it's political payback
By Robert Travis Scott and Paul Purpura
BATON ROUGE -- The Washington lobbying firm of former U.S. Sen. John Breaux has won a $192,000 contract from the state's Department of Economic Development, drawing criticism from an Algiers lawmaker who called it political payback to Breaux from Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
On a second round of a competitive bidding process, Patton Boggs LLP, a major lobbying firm in Washington, got a one-year contract beginning April 1 to press the state's case for military and federal installations.
DED Secretary Mike Olivier said the bidding process was done "by the book" and that Patton Boggs overall was the best firm to represent the state's interests in securing a range of federal assets for Louisiana.
But state Rep. Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, said Patton Boggs was chosen over a highly qualified firm -- the Spectrum Group -- with a track record of helping secure the "federal city" project in Algiers. He said Breaux appeared to be reneging on an earlier promise to donate his services to the state after Hurricane Katrina.
"We are at a critical point in taking this federal city concept from planning to reality, and now is not the time to change horses on what appears to be a political payback," said Tucker, who is also chairman of the Algiers Development District.
Blanco appointed Breaux to "lead Louisiana's legislative efforts in Washington," according to a press release from the governor's office. The release said that Breaux would donate his services to the state.
"I think it's a shame that the governor holds John Breaux out to be someone who's working for free when he's not," Tucker said.