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Kenny Matassa releases statement; attorney says alleged bribe was really a loan

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GONZALES - An attorney for Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa said his client will not resign.

Matassa retained Lance Unglesby Tuesday following reports about allegations Matassa bribed someone to not run in a Gonzales City Council election. Monday, WBRZ.com was first to report the Ascension Parish District Attorney said he was asking for an investigation into recordings that surfaced Monday morning on by the Pelican Post, an online news site. Political opponents of Matassa claim the audio is recording Matassa offering a bribe to Wayne Lawson. That bribe included at least $1,200 in cash and a parish job.

Tuesday, Lawson said he was wearing a recording device when he met with Matassa and gave the money back.

"It was the responsible thing to do," Lawson said. "I would like (my voters) to realize this race is not new to me. I've been in it quite a few times. I promise them the same things I did before. There will be honesty, integrity and good representation."

Unglesby scheduled a 12:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the situation.  During the news conference, he said Matassa was giving Lawson a loan and the recording is of a conversation Matassa had with Lawson about friendly political advice. 

Matassa released a statement around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday:

"This week, I experienced how an act of generosity can be twisted into a conspiracy against me for electoral gain and clickbait.

I have known Wayne Lawson for over 20 years. We worked together in construction and he comes from a good family. On several occasions, I provided Mr. Lawson with small loans so he could pay his bills. Mr. Lawson never paid me back, but I considered him a friend who had fallen on hard times. Last year, I paid off a debt Mr. Lawson incurred with a local finance company.  I live my life by a moral code to share whatever blessings I have with others.

I do not know Wade Petite as well, but again I know he comes from a good family. He does have an extensive criminal record, which includes multiple arrests for simple assault, simple battery, domestic abuse battery and DWI. He was sued for legal malpractice for mishandling cases and, after an investigation; the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an order barring him from practicing law in Louisiana. Mr. Petite has an unhealthy and unnatural obsession with me, as he has been similarly obsessed with others.

The plot they hatched is an example of the politics of personal destruction. The truth is that Mr. Lawson is not an electoral threat to anyone. He has been defeated by wide margins in all five campaigns he has run since 1991. He was a friend, down on his luck, looking for work and help, in the wrong election at the wrong time. There was no bribe. There was an honest attempt to help a man out.   

I take people at face value when they give me their word, and my word is my bond. Even after his attempt to smear me in the media, I ensured Mr. Lawson was still scheduled for an interview. He did not, however, show up for the interview. Instead, he went on a media junket.  Mr. Lawson and Mr. Petite are agents of chaos. I reject the influence these negative elements have over our politics and our community."

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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