Mississippi AG candidates trade barbs over public corruption fight

Hurst challenged Hood’s record on fighting public corruption. As an assistant U.S. attorney from 2006 through this year, Hurst successfully prosecuted corruption cases against former Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner Chris Epps, Vicksburg mayor Paul Winfield and Harrison County supervisor Kim Savant, among others. Hood blamed his office’s lack of wiretap authority as the reason why his office has not been more active in public corruption cases.

“I’ve been to the Legislature and tried to get them to pass wire tap authority for the attorney general,” Hood said. “They passed it, years ago, but guess who they passed it for? Drug dealers. We asked for it for white collar and that’s how you make a white collar case. We use the assets we have, but we don’t have many.”

“We (the AG’s office and the federal government) work well together. If the federal government has a case that they’re better able to handle, I’m all for it. I don’t do politics. I just call balls and strikes.”

“In my experience in the U.S. attorney’s office, we never worked with them (the attorney general’s office). Not once,” Hurst said. He also accused Hood’s office of leaks involving an investigation of former Mendenhall police chief Bruce Barlow, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit extortion, bribery and theft and was sentenced to five years in prison last year.