Louisiana Lawmaker Defends Racehorse Deal

A Louisiana legislator said he and his partners received no income or preferential treatment through a deal in which Fair Grounds owners Bryan and Vickie Krantz paid their costs in connection with ownership of two Thoroughbred racehorses, the Times-Picayune reported.

House Speaker Charlie Dewitt issued a letter to his colleagues in the House of Representatives in light of the situation. The controversy developed in late August after the Times-Picayune, based in New Orleans, reported that Dewitt and his partners had received the horses as gifts.

"I can assure you that no violation of state law or the (Louisiana) code of ethics occurred by my participation in this well-documented venture," DeWitt said in a letter dated Sept. 11. "I received no income or preferential treatment as a result in my participation of the relationship."

The newspaper said the state Board of Ethics and New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan have declined to comment on the matter.

The Times-Picayune reported that Dewitt, in his letter, said he and his lobbyist partners reimbursed the Krantzes for all unpaid expenses. He said the partners were given an interest in one horse in November 2000, and a later a second horse.

Krantz, a member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors, told the newspaper he was unsure of the total expenses, but said Redneck Racing, the name of the partnership owed about $2,800 "to wipe the slate clean."

In April, DeWitt introduced a bill that would have nullified a state Supreme Court ruling that could cost Fair Grounds as much as $100 million for diverting video poker revenue from horsemen. Fair Grounds on Oct. 4 will seek approval from voters in Orleans Parish to add slot machines.