BATON ROUGE — Fallout from the failure of a proposed gasoline sales tax has created frayed feelings in the Capitol with a group of GOP lawmakers accusing the transportation secretary of threatening retaliation in a tweet.
House GOP Caucus Chairman Lance Harris of Alexandria and 18 other Republican representatives sent a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards blasting Shawn Wilson for a tweet.
Wilson, who lobbied for a bill by Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, that would have raised the gas sales tax by 17 cents, tweeted shortly after the bill died in the House Wednesday.
"2 legislators opposing the gas tax already made requests for road maintenance, the day the bill was pulled," the tweet said. "No is the easy answer."
The tweet was then deleted.
"This is a very inappropriate statement made by the DOTD secretary embodying what is wrong with politics," the lawmakers said in their letter to the governor. "In the eyes of many members, it is being viewed as utilizing tax dollars as retribution for a vote.
"While we do not know the legislators to which he is referring, we do know these two legislators represent thousands of taxpaying citizens who contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Transportation Trust Fund. With Secretary Wilson's tweet, should these citizens expect to see no return on the taxes they pay?
"This past year, you have used the term “Washington-style politics” to describe the legislature. However, if your DOTD Secretary is holding hostage taxpayer money, isn’t that the epitome of what people hate about politics?"
Among the other lawmakers who signed the letter: Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City; Rep. Julie Emerson, R-Carencro; Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton; Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath; Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro; and Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport.
Edwards' office declined to comment.
Wilson said the tweet was misinterpreted, saying it was meant to illustrate that the state can't afford to properly maintain its infrastructure with the current 20-cent tax.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1