Public office/private gain: Lawmakers

Experts and political observers have called Mississippi’s lack of rules and transparency on campaign money “a recipe for ethical disaster” and “legalized bribery,” with special-interest money making its way into politicians’ pockets after it runs through their campaign accounts. Campaign money is shielded from ethics, bribery and other laws because it is ostensibly to be used for campaigning and records of it are supposed to be open to the public. Neither appears to be the case in Mississippi.

The state Legislature would be the body to reform the system. But as more money from outside interests pours into legislative races, lawmakers have been loath to even seriously discuss reform.

Personal or questionable spending from campaign accounts appears to be commonplace among state legislators.

There’s even been a common term for years around the Capitol about some lawmakers’ spending. It’s called “living out of your campaign account.”