The true criticism of Hall might not be his ideology or politics. The real concern seems to be that Hall is too white.
Erik Fleming, a former legislator from Jackson and the Democrat’s 2006 and 2008 nominee for U.S. Senate, blogged, “Last month, Hall was hired by a racially split vote, as all of the white members voted for Hall, while the Black vote was split between the current interim director Rosalind Rawls and Chris Smith, field coordinator for the historic Travis Childers congressional campaign. Both Rawls and Smith are Black.”
Mississippi Democrats have a history of racial strife over the selection of their executive director. Back in 2001 the Administrative Committee of the Democratic State Executive Committee dismissed Keelan Sanders, son of then committee member Everett Sanders and grandson of former Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party leader Emma Sanders. According to reports from the Mississippi Link, he was terminated because he “was incompetent and had used office computers to check out undesirable things.” Subsequently, a committee faction composed largely on racial lines reinstated Sanders and ultimately received the resignation of then Party Chairman Jon Levingston of Clarksdale, the new executive director Amy Harris, and the party treasurer Jodie Robinson.
Chairman Franks certainly does not want a repeat of that coup d’état.
In 2003, the Democrats settled a lawsuit with another former executive director, Alice Skelton, whom they had failed to pay salary, bonus, and benefits and stretched out their delinquency over a period of years in court battles. Skelton, who is white, also saw her opposition line-up largely on racial lines.
To pay for a portion of the settlement, the Mississippi Democratic Party took a loan of $40,000 from the Michigan Democratic Party.
Ironically, Sam Hall in The Scott County Times reported on this in an October 2004 column. He wrote: “Supposedly, some $54,000 was raised in local, private funds for the settlement-again, paid directly to Skelton. What of this money and reporting it? What of reporting the $40,000 loan itself? What of circumventing campaign finance laws by taking political donations and paying them directly to individuals? This is all the gray area of political money, but someone has to sort it out.”
Now it is up to Hall and Franks to sort out the Democratic Party’s problems.