Threats rare for state officials

Mississippi’s top elected officials are often accompanied by bodyguards at a cost of thousands of dollars, but there have been few – if any – credible threats against them in the past four years, according to documents obtained by The Clarion-Ledger.

Two potential threats against elected officials have been reported since 2007, based on information from the Department of Public Safety to the Mississippi Ethics Commission following the newspaper’s inquiries.

One resulted in no arrests and the other was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. DPS, however, did not provide specific details, including who the threats targeted.

The Clarion-Ledger requested information from DPS in February on “reports of threats or perceived threats against elected officials,” including the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker, following the shooting of an Arizona congresswoman. DPS denied the request.

In its refusal to release information to the newspaper, DPS said there were multiple records of threats to officials but the records fell under the state’s “investigative reports” exemption.

The Clarion-Ledger filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission this month decided not to rule on DPS’ denial of the newspaper’s request.

Clarion Ledger
7/30/11