Attorney General Jim Hood “Just Cannot Pull It Together” On Public Corruption

Sunday The Sun-Herald featured a piece by Paul Hampton on public corruption in Mississippi. Former federal prosecutor and Republican candidate for Attorney General Mike Hurst is quoted extensively. Attorney General Jim Hood’s office could not be bothered to comment and had no information to provide the newspaper on public corruption cases, saying they “just cannot pull it together.”

From the story:

One federal prosecutor last week said he’s had his fill of this cycle of government malfeasance. He quit his job and threw his hat in the ring for the state attorney general post.

Former prosecutor Mike Hurst said Attorney General Jim Hood has been absent during these probes, including the most-recent one that was punctuated by the suicide of Harrison County Supervisor William Martin of Gulfport. Martin killed himself Thursday, shortly before he was due in federal court to face corruption charges.

“Our attorney general should be prosecuting these public-corruption matters,” Hurst said. “If our attorney general was prosecuting these cases with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we wouldn’t be No. 1 in the nation in public corruption.”

Hood was invited via email Friday to weigh in on the issue, but he didn’t respond to those questions.

“We were trying to get this to you before we left today, but just cannot pull it together on such short notice,” his spokeswoman Jan Schaefer wrote in an email. “It will have to be next week. I’ll get it to you just as soon as we are able.”

Right now, Hurst said, state-federal cooperation is the best crime-fighting tool officials have.

“Working with the FBI, we see a whole lot of public corruption going on around the state. The thing that has bothered me from Day 1 is the complete absence of the attorney general,” he said. “I’m taking a leap of faith in leaving my job with the hopes the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office can prosecute public corruption cases together.

“I think that’s the only way we dig ourselves out of this hole. I don’t understand what the problem is over there.”

Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/2015/02/28/6096639/analysis-corruption-sweeps-mississippi.html#storylink=cpy.

What Others Are Saying About Mike Hurst:

“The most competitive general election race is expected to be between three-term incumbent Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood – the state’s lone Democratic statewide elected official – and Mike Hurst, an assistant U.S. attorney from Madison who qualified for the AG’s race on Friday.” (Geoff Pender, The Clarion Ledger, 2/27/15).

“He has fought public corruption and Jim Hood hasn’t . . . at all. For all of the trial lawyer proclivities and buddies that Hood has and how bad that is for business, the electorate doesn’t seem to care. But the public is visibly mad about corruption and Jim Hood has been an absentee landlord for public corruption prosecution in this state since the day he took office. He poses with police officers in TV ads during election years as some sort of “Super District Attorney” and he loves to talk about shaking down big companies for settlements. The one thing an AG should do is fight public corruption and his office hasn’t done even a little bit of it.

Hurst needs to make the AGs race only about public corruption. He should endeavor to thread the needle on convincing Mississippi voters that THE highest function of AG is to fight public corruption and that he has a distinct advantage over Hood. In doing that and should actively tell the story about how the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office basically has nothing to do with the AG’s office on public corruption criminal matters. Exhibit A is the Dickie Scruggs prosecution.” (Alan Lange, Y’all Politics, 3/1/15).

About Mike Hurst:

On Friday, February 27, 2015, Hurst resigned his position as Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division, which he had held since 2006, in order to run for Attorney General. In his time in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mike prosecuted some of the largest and most complex public corruption and white collar cases in the state’s history, including the recent bribery case against former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps.

Hurst is a native of Newton County, Mississippi, and a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson and The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. From 2000 until 2003, Hurst practiced law at Troutman Sanders LLP in Washington. From 2003 until beginning his service as Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2006, he served as Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and later as Legislative Director and Counsel in the Washington office of Congressman Chip Pickering.

Hurst was recently awarded the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2014 Executive Office of the United States Attorneys Director’s Award for Outstanding Prosecution of Fraud and Service to Fraud Prevention, relating to the prosecution of the largest and most complex commercial mortgage fraud Ponzi scheme ever committed in the history of the State of Mississippi. His legal affiliations and activities include memberships in the Mississippi Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the Mississippi Prosecutors Association, and the Federalist Society.

Mike and his wife Celeste reside in Madison, Mississippi, with their four children.

Mike Hurst Press Release
3/2/15