HARRISON: Hood’s move stirs objection, raises questions

Mississippi’s only statewide elected Democrat said his father was giving him and the state the office rent-free.

Still, within hours of Hood’s announcement becoming public, political operatives were sending out information about state law 7-5-17. That particular code section states, “The attorney general shall be assigned an office at the capitol and shall keep the same open Monday through Friday for not less than eight hours each day. He and his assistants shall be there for business during said hours with the exception of such time when the attorney general or his assistants may be required to conduct the state’s business at other locations.”

If the state law did become an issue, Hood could say that the Legislature was violating it first because he was not provided an office in the state Capitol. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a capitol “is a building where the state legislative body meets.”

The second definition, according to Merriam-Webster is “a group of buildings in which the functions of state government are carried out.”

True enough, the Attorney General’s main offices are located in the Sillers Building across the street from the state Capitol in what is known as the Capitol complex.

But two years before 7-5-17 was passed, the Legislature approved other language referring to the attorney general’s space in the state Capitol building or state office building. So in the later law where the legislators referred specifically to assigning the attorney general office space at the Capitol, it is reasonable to assume they were talking about the building with the gold-plated eagle on top of the dome.

In reality, the only enforcement provision in that law is the possibility of a negative public reaction for not adhering to it. The question is will Mississippi residents – more precisely voters – care if Hood is doing his job, at least part of the time, from the square in his hometown of Houston instead of in Jackson?

Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal
8/14/13