Senate bid: Musgrove steps in a cow patty

Then, as rumored for months, Musgrove stepped in a rather expansive political cow patty – one left steaming and icky near the $55 million failed Mississippi Beef Processors plant and one that he’ll be hard pressed to scrape off his winged-tip shoes – despite the fact that Musgrove was neither indicted nor charged in the case.

The Georgia-based Facility Group and three of its executives were slapped with a federal fraud indictment last week that was related to 2003 campaign contributions made to Musgrove’s failed gubernatorial re-election bid.

Campaign contributions connected to the failed beef plant went to Musgrove’s 2003 gubernatorial campaign – which got a total of $59,000 in campaign contributions related to the beef plant.

The Facility Group and Moultrie made no other Mississippi campaign contributions in 2003, according to the watchdog group Followthemoney.org. The Clarion-Ledger reported in 2007 that the Facility Group of Smyrna, Ga., acted as project manager for the beef plant after the Mississippi Development Authority hired it in June 2003 for $3.2 million. The Facility Group Political Action Committee then donated a total of $45,000 to Musgrove’s re-election bid in 2003.

Those donations came after Facility Group chairman and CEO Robert Moultrie made an individual donation of $2,000 on July 24, 2003, to Musgrove’s campaign.

Taxpayers billed?
But this column first reported last year that Facility Management Group Inc. also gave Musgrove $1,000 on July 24, 2003, while a total of 11 other Facility Group senior executives individually gave Musgrove $1,000 contributions each on that same July 24, 2003, date, bringing Musgrove’s total beef plant related campaign contributions to $59,000 from Facility Group sources.

State officials had previously said Facility Group was paid $3.2 million, but under a contract involving the Facility Management Group, the state and former plant owner Richard Hall, the company received $6.5 million.

The indictment accuses the Facility Group and its executives of submitting fraudulent invoices to recover the costs of the contributions to Musgrove from the beef plant project – costs which were ultimately paid by the taxpayers.

Moultrie has denied the allegations. Musgrove has denied any decision-making role in the beef plant project. The feds say the probe is ongoing.

Sid Salter
Clarion Ledger
3/30/8