Tourism officials here say they were happy to accommodate the filming of a campaign commercial for Ronnie Musgrove’s Senate bid around the historic 1855 courthouse, although they didn’t know he was going inside.
The commercial, filmed for Musgrove, a Democrat, shows him talking with residents on and around the Historic Canton Square and even in the Madison County Economic Development Authority’s board room inside the courthouse.
Following a written request, the film crew which produced the commercial obtained permission to use the square, which is county-owned property. However, county officials said there was no mention in that request that they would be utilizing the offices inside the courthouse.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker has accused Musgrove of breaking campaign finance rules when the his campaign joined with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to pay for the commercial.
When contacted about the use of the board room inside the courthouse, MCEDA Public Relations Coordinator Taravia Seals said the commercial shoot was coordinated through the Canton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Film Office.
Executive Director Jo Ann Gordon confirmed the Musgrove campaign made contact with her office, but said that the Canton Film Office’s main role is to serve as a liaison for film crews looking to use the square or other parts of the city.
“My office is a professional office that follows a set protocol and meets the needs of the film maker,” Gordon said simply. “My conversation with them included that they had to get express permission to use the square. I also told them if they went to any individual business they needed to get written permission as well.”
County Administrator Donnie Caughman confirmed the group requested and received permission to use the courthouse grounds, but never requested use of the MCEDA board room.
“Using the courthouse grounds to film a commercial or movie isn’t that unusual,” Caughman said. “We’ve had others film there. It’s very common, but there was no mention of going inside.”
Madison County Journal