LSP enters probe of Alcohol, Tobacco control office

Louisiana State Police are assisting in the investigation of a state office whose top official resigned suddenly on Friday, officials said Saturday.

Murphy J. Painter, veteran commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, quit Friday without any official explanation.

State Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges made the announcement in a one-sentence news release.

Murphy J. Painter, veteran commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, quit Friday without any official explanation.

Murphy J. Painter, veteran commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, quit Friday without any official explanation.

State Police were asked by the Office of State Inspector General to help with OIG’s investigation of the office that Painter headed until Friday.

“What I can tell you is that yesterday we were asked by another agency to participate in an active, ongoing investigation and provide information as needed,” State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson said Saturday.

“We are involved and we are going to provide information and expertise,” he said.

Edmonson declined to elaborate.

The focus of the investigation is unclear.

Painter could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Inspector General Stephen B. Street Jr. also declined comment.

Street’s office is part of the Governor’s Office.

It was set up to help prevent and detect waste, mismanagement, abuse, fraud and corruption in the executive branch of state government.

Kyle Plotkin, a spokesman for Gov. Bobby Jindal, declined comment Friday night on Painter’s resignation.

Painter had held the job of commissioner since 1996. He also served under former Govs. Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco.

The state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Control office issues alcohol and tobacco permits.

Agents do periodic checks to see whether establishments are complying with state alcohol and tobacco laws, including bans on serving underage drinkers.

The office is relatively obscure by state government standards.

However, it was thrust into the news in Baton Rouge last year in a dispute with Chelsea’s Café over the serving of alcoholic beverages.

Last September, the two sides hammered out an agreement.

Painter has been a fixture at the State Capitol for years and made regular appearances before legislative committees considering drunk driving and other bills.

He also served as chairman of Jindal’s DWI-Vehicular Task Force, which often crafted high-profile bills that became part of the governor’s legislative package.

Baton Rouge area lawmakers said on Saturday that they were taken aback by the news that Painter had quit his post.

“I was just kind of dumbfounded,” said state Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part.

St. Germain said she never heard anything negative about Painter and that he regularly responded to legislative requests.

“That is why I’m shocked,” she said of his resignation.

State Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said Saturday he saw Painter recently in New Orleans and Painter gave no indication that anything was amiss.

Bridges said Brant Thompson will serve as interim commissioner of the agency.

source: 2theadvocate.com

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