You might have noticed over the past 47 days that several of your closest friends, largest campaign contributors, legal beneficiaries and political allies seem to have found themselves in trouble with the federal government. Two of those, who have been involved with your office in an official capacity, Timothy Balducci and Joey Langston, have both pleaded guilty to federal charges. It has now come out, thanks to the Clarion Ledger, that Langston and Balducci have reportedly also funneled $1,000,000 of influence money to former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters, only after Scruggs reportedly tried to get Peters to pursue a criminal case against Bob Wilson to sweeten his negotiating position.
The fact that two Special Assistant Attorneys General have admitted some level of guilt in conjunction with a far reaching corruption scheme doesn’t instill much confidence in your office. You don’t need me to tell you how bad this makes your office look. What makes it worse for you is that you have been fighting to help them (who incidentally donated a lot of money to your last campaign) keep $14,000,000 of settlement money in the case of Mississippi vs. MCI. In fact, now might be a good time to rethink your defense of those guys. I know Medicaid and Education sure could use $14,000,000 this year, but I digress.
As I have stated before, there seems to be nothing that would legally preclude you from pursuing charges on behalf of the people of the State of Mississippi. In fact, I could make the very strong argument that, as the state’s top law enforcement officer (as you regularly remind us), you are duty-bound to pursue charges against these folks. And none of this country club prison stuff. It’s time for equal justice. Let’s lock some of these rich folks up in a real prison and make some examples of folks the same way you rightly are doing on civil rights cases. I think your office can do both at the same time.
I know it’s a tough deal to find out that people close to you have done wrong. You must be enormously disappointed – not to mention embarrassed. But this is the gig you signed up for, General Hood. Remember, justice is supposed to be blind (or at least significantly vision impaired). The confidence in our legal system has been shaken to its very core, and you have the ability to help make it right. The trust that these people, who are so close to you, have admitted to violating is so very basic that they deserve the same prosecutorial vigor that you seem to save only for people who committed crimes 30 years ago. This is here and now. Like Operation Pretense (which was also led by the feds due to weak leadership in Mississippi), this could help define your legacy as an Attorney General who actually fought corruption versus empowering it, like you seem to be doing at this point.
Now I am not a lawyer, but I have a bit of legal advice. I know within the federal system, an “independent special prosecutor” is often used in matters of this type. I can’t think of a better time or place. Appointing someone with the legal authority to chase these folks down wherever the trail may lead seems to be imperative. Your office may actually have some conflicts as there is at least some evidence that there has been some coordination between some of your campaign contributors under federal indictment and your office. Plus, you have taken a LOT of money from these guys in your campaigns (I mean a LOT of money!). It’s almost like they knew you would never prosecute them. Since those campaign contributions, you provided some safe harbor to Dickie Scruggs with your previously unannounced and since unmentioned “confidential informant” language that you used when he developed some contempt issues with Judge Acker in Alabama. Plus, Courtney Schloemer and some investigators in your office have had some conversations with federal grand jury witnesses that just so happened to be paid consultants of Dickie Scruggs in his civil matters. While not per se illegal, it could be interpreted as having the appearance of impropriety, which I know someone as sensitive to legal accuracy and public sentiment like you would never want. All of this is not to mention the fact that your mentor and friend Mike Moore, has been working with your office simultaneously on State Farm grand jury matters and the Scruggs litigation team, according to the Lee Harrell deposition.
Put simply, you seem to have a conflict. Plus, you don’t seem real enthusiastic on taking on the role of the “tough as nails” top law enforcement officer of Mississippi in this particular instance.
It’s time to appoint a special, independent prosecutor so that we can pursue state charges against those that have admitted guilt on federal charges and those that might admit guilt or be found guilty later. The integrity of our state judicial system depends on it.
And anticipating your defense that there may not be a proper, existing legal mechanism to do that, let me remind you that the legislature is in session. Given the circumstances, I’d bet you could have a bill drafted, through both houses and enthusiastically signed by the governor in a matter of a week. I’d even bet a steak dinner that our new State Auditor Stacey Pickering would be fully supportive of the measure as well.
Look, so far the Clarion Ledger and most of the mainstream media have given you a pass. But how long do you think that’s gonna last when indictments are coming down on your friends, contributors and associates on a weekly basis? It’s time to get out in front of this deal. I will be glad to help in any way I can. I am pretty easy to reach. Though I know at this point in time you are not making comments to bloggers, you know where to find me.
Technical, Spiritual, Menu and Blogging Advisor of the Scruggs Scandal, Scruggs Nation, Scruggsiana, Liti-Gate, & L’affaire Scruggs
& Editor, YallPolitics.com
P.S. Have a nice day.