State Capitol

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana's Republican Party is objecting to Gov. John Bel Edwards' plans to hold a business summit Thursday, calling it a taxpayer-financed campaign event.

The GOP suggests the Democratic governor has created the summit to bolster his bid for a second term in office.

Edwards' office said the all-day event in Baton Rouge is aimed at linking business leaders with government officials and highlighting "economic development success stories." The governor will give a speech, and several panel discussions will be held.

Edwards has held a series of closed-door meetings with business leaders around Louisiana since 2017. His spokeswoman Christina Stephens said the summit is a culmination of those talks and similar to his participation at economic development events hosted by other groups.

The Republican Party said in a statement Tuesday that more than half the summit's panelists work for Edwards' administration or donated to his campaign directly or through their companies.

Edwards faces two announced Republican challengers in the Oct. 12 election: U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.