As one could easily predict, the press is circling the wagons for Musgrove. Patsy Brumfield’s piece this morning gleefully toed the “nothing-to-see-here” line.
Musgrove’s press person was quoted as saying . . .
“There is nothing in the plea agreement that indicates any quid pro quo. And whatever Robert Moultrie’s intentions were to influence future acts were misdirected – The Land, Water and Timber Resource Board was responsible for all contracts and they approved contracting with The Facility Group.”
Parsing the bribery/gratuity line is a tough row to hoe. While technically true about nothing mentioning quid pro quo in the plea agreement, that does not necessarily mean the plea agreement is the end-all-be-all of what really happened. Or put another way, if you have someone that robs a bank, carjacks someone and shoots them in the leg, and they plea to the bank robbery only, it doesn’t mean the other things that were alleged to have occured didn’t. Pleading to a lesser crime (see Scruggs et al) happens all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily change the facts of what happened.
The bottom line is that the political bottom line for “Bubba” is that Ronnie Musgrove will have taken lots of campaign money from people convicted of giving it to him. That’s a pretty hard truth to unwind in a political campaign no matter how many free media column inches are spent defending it.
My prediction . . . I would still expect more friendly press pieces for Musgrove in the coming days.
Follow the money
This whole incident may have a chilling effect on Musgrove’s campaign donations from individuals. Scruggs and Minor (two of Musgrove’s biggest historical campaign contributors) are in jail. Moultrie and presumably his co-defendants will join that club shortly. Every nickel that goes into Musgrove and Wicker will be scrutinized under a microscope from blogs and the other campaigns. So far, Musgrove has not (in my opinion) shown himself able to run an exciting campaign or to be able to move voters on the strength of ideas. His only salvations at this point is that he has a (D) by his name in down year for Republicans, and that the DSCC is flush with cash to prop him up. Big trial lawyer money is on the sidelines right now, and I think the political realities of this Beef Plant affair, which will last anywhere from a week to a month longer, will put a major damper on Musgrove’s ability to talk big donors out of cash knowing the exposure they will get as a result.
Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.