Rep. Doss: No business conflict in handling Haslam’s gas tax bill

House Transportation Committee Chairman Barry Doss, R-Leoma, tells WSMV-TV that there’s no conflict of interest in his acting as lead House proponent of Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislative tax package – despite some assertions to the contrary – though he does run a paving company.

The Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA), an arch-conservative and anti-tax group, has written House Speaker Beth Harwell to call for an ethics investigation of Doss, contending he potentially has “a direct financial interest” in increasing state fuel taxes to generate more roadbuilding/paving business. (Tennessee Star story with link to the letter, HERE.)

“First of all, I thought it was tacky that someone would use those tactics to try to fight against something that they don’t believe,” Doss said. “My family business has been in business for 36 years, and we’ve done two projects for TDOT in the history of our company. One project before I was elected, three years before I was elected, and then one after I was elected.”

Doss also pointed to a brief letter written by Drew Rawlins, Executive Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, which said he found no conflict of interest based (on)… his conversation with Doss and the information found on TRA’s website.

“I am not a road builder; I can’t compete with road builders,” Doss told Channel 4. “I am a small rural general contractor who happens to do dirt work and paving. I have never paved a Tennessee road in my road in my life. I’ve never paved a city road, and I’ve never paved a county road in my life. So there is no benefit to my company because of this bill.”

TRA member Steve Gill told the station that Rawlins’ statement was inadequate because there was no investigation. He said Harwell has not responded to the letter and WSMV says she did not respond to the station’s inquiry about the matter.

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