Louisiana lawmaker criticizes legislative summit as being biased towards governor

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Gov. John Bel Edwards was the keynote speaker for the 2019 Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit held Aug. 14 at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

A summit wrapping up the legislative session has come under fire from local legislators who believe it was unfairly biased towards Gov. John Bel Edwards, an assertion the event host disputes.

A summit wrapping up the legislative session has come under fire from several local legislators who believe it was unfairly biased towards Gov. John Bel Edwards, an assertion the event host disputes.

Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) said Wednesday morning in a Facebook post that the Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit, hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, is a de facto John Bel Edwards campaign event, claiming both Republican candidates for governor were uninvited to the event.

“Both Republican candidates for governor (Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone) were originally invited and then told that they were not welcome at the event,” Seabaugh’s post said.

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce issued a statement by email that said the summit “is not and has never been a political event.”

“The Bossier Chamber of Commerce does not endorse candidates for political office and only seeks to educate our membership and community about issues of great importance to our city, parish and region,” the statement read.

Seabaugh went on to say that in this past week, U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson (LA-04) was uninvited and conservative legislators Raymond Crews, Barrow Peacock and himself were told that comments were going to be limited to a single topic, which would not be given to them until they entered the event.

“This has all been orchestrated by the Bossier Chamber in a blatant attempt to promote Edwards in a campaign year and to stifle his critics,” Seabaugh said on Facebook.

The chamber said in its statement that for this year’s format, 14 state legislators were invited to participate in a panel discussion, moderated by the Council for a Better Louisiana President and CEO Barry Erwin, to talk about topics of great importance to our state: Tax Reform, Education, Infrastructure and Criminal Justice. 

The chamber added in a comment to Seabaugh’s post, which was deleted, “An email was sent this spring to all three top candidates inviting them to participate. At approximately six weeks prior to the event, when the Republican candidates did not respond to multiple invites, we had to move forward with the planning of the program. We met with our regional partners and concluded that it was best to put our local elected officials on stage to speak, along with the Governor as his office had already confirmed he would attend.”

The comment added, “With the format of a panel discussion of local state officials, there was no time to have the Congressional delegation speak.”

The Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit is hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce along with its regional partners — the Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce, Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber and North Louisiana Economic Partnership — to provide a wrap-up of the 2019 legislative session.

“The Bossier Chamber of Commerce hosts the summit along with our regional partners as a way to educate our membership and business community about the legislative session and state government,” the statement continued. “This year’s format gave our local state senators and state representatives the opportunity to speak directly to their constituents from the stage.”

Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) said Wednesday morning in a Facebook post that the Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit, hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, is a de facto John Bel Edwards campaign event, claiming both Republican candidates for governor were uninvited to the event.

“Both Republican candidates for governor (Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone) were originally invited and then told that they were not welcome at the event,” Seabaugh’s post said.

He went on to say that in this past week, U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson (LA-04) was uninvited and conservative legislators Raymond Crews, Barrow Peacock and himself were told that comments were going to be limited to a single topic, which would not be given to them until they entered the event.

“This has all been orchestrated by the Bossier Chamber in a blatant attempt to promote Edwards in a campaign year and to stifle his critics,” Seabaugh said on Facebook.

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce issued a statement by email that said the summit “is not and has never been a political event.”

“The Bossier Chamber of Commerce does not endorse candidates for political office and only seeks to educate our membership and community about issues of great importance to our city, parish and region,” the statement read.

The Northwest Louisiana Legislative Summit is hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce along with its regional partners — the Greater Minden Chamber of Commerce, Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport-Bossier African American Chamber and North Louisiana Economic Partnership — to provide a wrap-up of the 2019 legislative session. This year’s format included a panel discussion hosted by Council for a Better Louisiana CEO Barry Erwin, to talk about topics important to Louisiana.

The chamber’s statement said that this year’s format included an invite to 14 state legislators to participate in the panel discussion.

“The Bossier Chamber of Commerce hosts the summit along with our regional partners as a way to educate our membership and business community about the legislative session and state government,” the statement continued. “This year’s format gave our local state senators and state representatives the opportunity to speak directly to their constituents from the stage.”