Much like his decision not to file state charges against the attorneys who pleaded guilty to a pair of judicial bribery schemes, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is claiming a conflict of interest prevents him from defending Gov. Haley Barbour in a Medicaid lawsuit.

Hood, a Democrat, told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that he must protect the interests of other branches of the state’s government, a stance Barbour, a Republican, called “absurd.”

An FBI report released this year says Scruggs offered $500,000 to two of his alleged co-conspirators in the judicial bribery scheme to attempt to convince Hood not to indict State Farm on criminal charges regarding Hurricane Katrina claims because Scruggs feared it would put an end to a possible settlement with his Scruggs Katrina Group.

Scruggs pleaded guilty in March to attempting to bribe a state judge in a dispute over Katrina attorneys fees. He is serving a five-year prison sentence in Kentucky.

Hood had appointed Langston as a special assistant attorney general in a high-profile case against MCI that resulted in $14 million in attorneys fees.

Now, Barbour will have to hire a private attorney to fight the hospitals.

“Neither the legislative nor judicial branches are parties to the lawsuit, so it is absurd for Jim Hood to suggest some sort of conflict as his reason for begging off the case,” Barbour said in a statement.

“Good lawyers do not turn their backs on their clients at the last minute. But this is not the first time Attorney General Hood has done so since I’ve been governor. It is a shame the taxpayers of Mississippi will have to pay extra to be represented because Jim Hood has changed his mind again about who he represents.”