RABALAIS: The Bogalusa Senator Known As Sixty

The Louisiana Legislature has seen many characters pass through its halls. But none were quite like Benjamin Burras Rayburn, who represented Washington and St. Tammany parishes for more than 45 years.

According to his obituary in The Times-Pic, Rayburn, also known as “Sixty,” had varying stories about how he obtained his famous nickname. Most folks in Washington Parish say he got the moniker because in his first election, his ballot number was 60.

Born in Mississippi, Rayburn spent his early years across state lines before moving to Bogalusa. He attended the city's technical college, which still credits the construction of their current campus to Rayburn’s work with the capital outlay budget.

Rayburn worked as a pipe fitter at Bogalusa’s paper mill and raised horses and cattle on the side. First elected to the Legislature in 1948, he bonded with then-Gov. Earl Long over their shared passion for farming and livestock. (Rayburn’s passion for animals even led him to help author legislation that created the School of Veterinary Medicine at LSU, the only program of its kind in the state.)

According to Morgan Peoples’ and Michael Kurtz’ Earl K. Long: the Saga of Uncle Earl and Louisiana Politics, Rayburn was a frequent visitor to Long’s “pea patch farm” in Winnfield, and even helped secure the governor’s release from a state mental hospital in 1959. Long repaid Rayburn’s loyalty by approving a new charity hospital for Bogalusa.

Rayburn was the longtime chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, enjoying enormous control on the state’s purse strings. Press accounts from the 1970s and 1980s contain lengthy reports about his power over the budgeting and capital outlay processes. By then, Rayburn had become the Legislature’s senior member, often recounting stories of his adventures with “Mr. Earl” for freshmen lawmakers.

In the 1990s, Rayburn and other lawmakers were accused of taking bribes in order to protect the video poker license of a Slidell businessman. The legislators were indicted and stood trial, and Rayburn was the only defendant that was found innocent on all charges. This legal saga is recounted in detail in Tyler Bridges’ Bad Bet on the Bayou: The Rise of Gambling in Louisiana and the Fall of Governor Edwin Edwards.

Even though he was acquitted, Sixty still lost his bid for re-election in 1995. And despite being retired from politics from then on, the former lawmaker often made appearances at committee hearings and community meetings to lobby for his pet projects until he died peacefully in 2008, at the age of 91.

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

* * * * *   S P E C I A L   H O L I D A Y   I S S U E   * * * * * The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille &

SPONSORED: Fostering A Healthier Community One Step At A Time

TPG recently attended the Acadiana Culture of Health Summit, an event that brought together healthcare professionals, local leaders, and

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates December 11, 2018 / Issue No. 168 By MITCH RABALAIS

SPONSORED: Cheniere Energy Makes A Generous Donation In New Apprenticeship Program

The new program will launch in January 2019, and eligible students will take what they have learned in SOWELA’s classrooms and apply it to

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

  ALERT: TO ALL VOTING ADULTS & PEOPLE WITH HEART CONDITIONS OR YOUNG CHILDREN…. THE SILLY SEASON IS UPON US… THERE IS NOWHERE

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates November 27, 2018 — Issue No. 166 By: Mitch Rabalais

SPONSORED: Lafayette Airport Terminal Groundbreaking Ceremony

It’s an exciting time for the Lafayette Regional Airport and the Acadiana region. After many years of planning and raising funds, the new

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates November 13, 2018 Issue No. 165 By Mitch Rabalais

SPONSORED: Picard Participates In Collaborative Panel Discussion

As Chair-Elect of the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and member of the Committee of 100, Tyron Picard recently participated in a

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By MITCH RABALAIS (mitch@lapolitics.com) & JEREMY ALFORD

SPONSORED: TPG Attends Microsoft Consultant’s Retreat

TPG’s Mike Michot and Evan Boudreaux recently attended the 2018 Microsoft State Governmental Affairs Consultant’s Retreat, providing an

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates October 30, 2018 Issue No. 163 Special “BRUH!” Edition By: Mitch

SPONSORED: The Picard Group

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates October 23, 2018 — Issue No. 162 By Mitch Rabalais

SPONSORED: LPCA Hold 35th Annual Conference

TPG’s client Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA) held their 35th Annual Conference last week at the Shreveport Convention Center. LPCA

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

October 16, 2018 — Issue No. 161 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com) (Printable

CORRECTION (LaPolitics Weekly 10.12.18)

In a “Field Notes” brief from yesterday’s LaPolitics Weekly, we erroneously reported that the Plaquemines Parish Council voted 4-3 to remove

The WEDNESDAY Tracker, Sponsored By Harris DeVille & Associates

October 10, 2018 — Issue No. 160 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com) RISPONE IS IN Fast

SPONSORED: Bike MS + Team Blu Collar = Success

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you work as a team, focused on one goal and motivating each other to succeed. On October 6 and

SPONSORED: The Picard Group

TUESDAY TRACKER (For Oct. 2!)

October 2, 2018 — Issue No. 159 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com)  IT AIN’T

SPONSORED: Honoring Former Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

The Picard Group was honored to attend the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center gala on Friday, September 21, supporting UL

SPONSORED: Franco-Fête 2018 Fundraising Luncheon For Scholarship Program Of CODOFIL

Each year, Franco-Fête raises funds to support French education in Louisiana, especially through La Fondation Louisiane’s “Escadrille

The Tuesday Tracker (Sponsored By Harris DeVille & Associates)

September 18, 2018 — Issue No. 158 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais

CAPITOL GAINS: Does Louisiana need a lieutenant governor?

You’ve really need to watch this interview. From being mistaken for Coach O and fielding attacks from fellow Republicans, to why John