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State Rep. offered a bribe to drop bill

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BATON ROUGE- A state representative has accused a well respected lobbying firm of making him a shady offer.

Representative Terry Brown (I-Colfax) said Wednesday a lobbyist with Southern Strategy Group in Baton Rouge offered to shower his district with corporate investments if he agreed to kill a bill he's co-sponsoring.

"We need a new sewer system in south Grant Parish and they offered to pay for it," said Brown.

Such an arrangement may not be illegal or unethical under state law because the allegations don't involve direct gifts to the lawmaker.

Southern Strategy did not have a comment for this story but the company it represents in this matter, Clean Harbors Environmental, offered a one sentence statement: "Representative Terry Brown's allegations are totally and unequivocally absurd."

Brown is co-sponsoring House Bill 11 which would ban the open-air burning of military munitions. Clean Harbors conducts such burning in Grant Parish and has employed Southern Strategy to lobby against the bill.

Two other lawmakers close to the bill including the bill's main author, Rep. Gene Reynolds, and the State Senator from Brown's district, Jay Luneau, have both said they were never approached by anyone about killing the bill in exchange for gifts to their districts.

Luneau said Clean Harbors did offer to make more investments in Grant Parish but it was done publicly and wasn't part of any back-room deal.

Luneau and Reynolds fear Brown's allegations will be a distraction from the bill and could hurt their chances of passing the burn ban.

"This is a really important issue for the sate and we need to concentrate on the issue at hand and not concentrate on this name calling," Luneau said.

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