Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has had a hell of a couple of weeks.
Most recently, he has embarked on an ambitious press tour to no apparent end, but there have been some doozies that have come out of it.
In his first real press surfacing, he met with WLBT reporter Marsha Thompson and had this to say.
“Had I known they were going to have these legal problems, I certainly would not have accepted anything directly, any direct contribution. We never told them to give any money there, and secondly, the Democratic Attorneys General are my colleagues.”
Then, three days later, Hood decided to do a bit of damage control by writing his own op-ed in the Clarion Ledger where he said . . .
“In fact, allegations lodged against me by this insurer were shown to be false when a federal judge recently threw out a lawsuit it had filed against my office. “
On President’s Day, Hood showed up to a Clarion Ledger editorial board looking like one of the cast extras from Green Acres where he laid this doozy out there. In responding to a question about why state charges had not been filed against Langston, Scruggs, Patterson, et. al, he said,
“It would be like prosecuting a relative”
Two days later, he laments not being given wiretapping authority for white collar crimes, and he asserts in a presser . . .
“(District attorneys) handle prosecutions in their districts,” he says. Those DA’s are the primary source of prosecutions. The AG’s come in and assist them at their request, but it’s not our primary responsibility.
“There’s no statutory authority for any kind of special prosecutor,” he says. “We don’t need it, the Federal Government is doing a fine job, I’m satisfied with the job they’re doing.
Then the tables started to turn. With the release of a November 1 FBI interview summary with Balducci came the revelation that, according to Balducci, Dickie Scruggs paid Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson $500K to influence Jim Hood specifically NOT to indict State Farm executives. During his testimony, when confronted about a meeting at Crechale’s restaurant with Balducci and Patterson on this issue, Hood replied . . .
9 Q. Did you have dinner with Mr. Balducci or Mr. Patterson at
10 Crechale’s restaurant where they discussed Scruggs’ desire to
11 settle that case?
12 A. No, sir. I haven’t been to Crechale’s in a long time.
13 Q. You did not have dinner with them where they discussed—
14 A. When are you talking about? And you said “Crechale’s.” I
15 haven’t been to Crechale’s so I know I didn’t have dinner with
16 anybody at Crechale’s.
17 Q. My real question is: Did Mr. Patterson or Mr. Balducci
18 have dinner with you and tell you that if you did not
19 participate or assist Mr. Scruggs in settling that mass tort
20 action which was going to generate a 20-million-dollar-plus
21 fee, that he would fund an alternative candidate to run against
22 you for attorney general?
23 A. If you’re asking me did somebody come to me and threaten
24 me, the answer is no. Now, out of all candor in this, I don’t
25 want to mislead you. I remember having dinner on one occasion
1 with Mr. Balducci and Mr. Patterson, but that conversation was
2 about they were leaving the firm that they were presently—
3 that Mr. Balducci was presently with. They didn’t convey any
4 threats to me about settling the case or anything like that.
5 Q. They never suggested that if you didn’t participate in
6 dropping your criminal investigation that Dickie Scruggs would
7 fund an alternate candidate and Mike Moore would support that?
8 A. No, sir. Absolutely not.
He responded again to WLBT by saying
“The decision on whether to indict State Farm Insurance Company was based solely on the advice of senior prosecutors in our office. Several days before the January 23, 2007, settlement with State Farm, after our prosecutors heard three days of testimony before a Jackson County grand jury, the majority of the prosecutors working on this case determined with a high level of certainty that no fact pattern existed that fell squarely within the insurance fraud statute. I made my decision that there was insufficient evidence to uphold a conviction of State Farm on evidence we had at the time, based upon the advice of a career prosecutor who started in this office in the early 1970’s. I am too hardheaded to be influenced by outside forces – I do what I think is right for the working people of Mississippi.”
Yesterday in the AP, he laid out a steady stream of stupidity . . .
“If I knew they were getting paid that much, I would have told them to get out of the office because it just didn’t smell right,”
Like there would have been an acceptable amount to corruptly influence a prosecutorial decision by an outside lawyer (although Balducci was technically a Special Assistant Attorney General).
“It was like they were fishing for information more than anything,”
Sir, you said “that conversation was about they were leaving the firm that they were presently— that Mr. Balducci was presently with”. I thought they didn’t talk about State Farm.
“I didn’t get a dime, wasn’t offered a dime and wouldn’t have taken a dime.”
Actually, General Hood, that’s not true. Between Langston, Scruggs & Patterson, in the last 5 years, you have accepted well over $1,000,000 in direct and indirect campaign contributions from these guys – about $500K in 2007 alone. Yet you have used that as a basis not to prosecute them . . . cause they’re like family. But now there must be a family spat because . . .
“I didn’t care who (Scruggs) supported. I wasn’t crazy about being attorney general anyway,” Hood said, adding that he preferred being a district attorney.
I can’t add any more to that nugget.