Miss. speaker candidate Philip Gunn: AG Jim Hood mishandling settlement funds

“The attorney general is the chief law enforcer of the state,” said state Rep. Philip Gunn, a Republican.

“He is not elected to decide how taxpayer money is to be spent. That’s just not in his job description. That is the Legislature’s job.”

Gunn, who has served in the House for nearly eight years and is a candidate for House Speaker, continues to fight for an attorney general “sunshine law” in Mississippi.

“In each state, its AG is given the legal right to negotiate settlements of this nature, and they have the sole authority to decide how it’s going to be spent,” he explained.

“The problem is, nationwide, that AGs end up hiring their favorite firms or political supporters to handle these cases for the State and then pay them whatever they want — giving them taxpayer dollars. Then, in turn, they make campaign contributions to the attorneys general when election time rolls around.”

Hood, who is seeking his third term, faces Republican Steve Simpson in the state’s Nov. 8 election.

A sunshine law, Gunn said, would do just that — bring to light the process — and take the authority to appropriate taxpayers’ money away from the attorney general and instead give it to the Legislature.

“It just creates too many political problems otherwise,” he said.

Legal Newsline
10/31/11