Brown confirmation under way in Jackson

Mississippi Department of Transportation Executive Director Larry L. "Butch" Brown's confirmation is under way at the Capitol.

Senate Highways and Transportation Chairman Sen. Tom King, R-Petal, said he intends to release a background check performed on Brown by the legislative Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review committee to the public. He said he hopes the report, which is customary for most government appointees, will replace “rumor and innuendo” with “fact and substance.”

“I truly believe they have left no stone unturned,” King said.

King said he has received letters in support of Brown's confirmation from Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway as well as some others. There were also several letters against Brown's confirmation.

The official has been criticized for his agency’s spending and what some see as his heavy handedness and observers expected a large crowd, but there were a good number of empty seats in the large committee room early in the meeting.

A series of Sun Herald articles earlier this year revealed Brown and the state’s three Transportation Commissioners had spent $207,000 on travel, including numerous trips abroad and to resorts. Brown spent $80,000 of the total with he and others taking multiple trips out of the country. The stories also showed that Brown and the commissioners took trips to tourist destinations and stayed in luxury hotels on trips that were funded by the road building industry, which the officials regulate.

Brown has been criticized for spending on a helicopter for MDOT and also what some see as MDOT’s ignoring the input of communities and local leaders on road projects.

But Brown has said he knows no reason he shouldn't be confirmed.

The Sun Herald follows this story in print and online editions.