Former lawmaker facing second DUI resigns from governor’s tax panel

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Former state Sen. Tommy Robertson, who is facing his second DUI charge within the past five years, has resigned from Gov. Haley Barbour’s tax study panel, gubernatorial aides have said.

Barbour spokesman Pete Smith said Robertson sent the governor a letter of resignation Friday. Smith said he has not read the letter and it is unclear if the former senator’s recent DUI charge is the reason for his departure from the commission.

Robertson, a Moss Point attorney, was arrested Feb. 25 and charged with DUI second offense and careless driving.

Moss Point Interim Police Chief Frederick Gaston said Robertson, 52, was stopped by an officer who saw him weaving in the roadway.

Although Robertson has two prior DUI convictions, one in 2004 and one in 1997, he is charged with a second offense because the 1997 DUI is more than five years old, police said last week.

A second offense DUI conviction can result in a fine of up to $1,500, up to one year in jail, and a suspended license for up to two years.

Robertson is scheduled to appear in city court on May 5.

Barbour named the panel to study Mississippi’s current tax system on federal and local tax structure levels. The panel’s overall goal is to find ways to cut taxes and furnish a report of its recommendations by Aug. 31.

Jimmy Heidelberg, a Pascagoula attorney and friend of Robertson, said last week that Robertson checked himself into an alcohol treatment facility in Hattiesburg following his arrest. Heidelberg said he did not know how long Robertson would be in treatment.

Robertson, a 16-year state senator, served as chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee for eight years. Robertson lost his re-election bid in August to now-Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula.