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La. Alcohol, Tobacco office being investigated

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Two state agencies are investigating the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. Murphy Painter, who led that office since 1996, resigned Friday without any public explanation.

Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson told The Advocate newspaper that another agency asked state police to help investigate the office.

The newspaper says he would not elaborate. Inspector General Stephen B. Street Jr. and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s spokesman Kyle Plotkin declined comment on Painter’s resignation.

State Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges announced Painter’s resignation and said Brant Thompson is interim commissioner.

The inspector general is part of the governor’s office and was set up to help prevent and detect waste, mismanagement, abuse, fraud and corruption in the executive branch of state government.

The state’s Alcohol and Tobacco office issues permits and checks whether establishments are complying with state laws, including bans on serving underage drinkers.

The office is relatively obscure by state government standards.

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

‘‘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.

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.

Painter does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment Sunday by The Associated Press.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://www.2theadvocate.com

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