Hood and Simpson sound off on attorney general race

The so-far quiet battle for attorney general will likely intensify after the Aug. 2 primaries, with two-term incumbent Democrat Jim Hood facing Republican challenger Steve Simpson.

Presently, signs for the two candidates seem scarce along Mississippi roadways, but since neither faces a primary opponent, the two can save most of their money and resources for the period between August and the Nov. 8 general elections. As of May 10, Hood’s campaign had raised $127,250 this year and reported $439,538 in cash on hand. Through the same period, Simpson reported he had received $233,875 in contributions this year, and had $200,059 in cash on hand.

Simpson and other Republicans have also attacked Hood for lucrative contracts the attorney general’s office gave to friends and lawyers who supported Hood’s campaigns. Some $14 million in legal fees went to Hood’s friend Joey Langston and another law firm for handling a tax-settlement case for Hood’s office. Langston, one of Hood’s biggest campaign contributors, later pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to bribe a judge in an unrelated case. Simpson wants more scrutiny of AG contracts with outside lawyers, but Hood has contended that outside counsel contracts have been public record and aboveboard.

“I think there have been some glaring disappointments in the Attorney General’s Office in the last several years that have hopefully come to the public’s attention,” Simpson said. “The political partisanship in the Attorney General’s Office, which is supposed to represent the interests of all Mississippians, is pretty glaring in my mind.”

He also believes Hood should have brought state action against high-profile Mississippi attorneys who were caught up in judicial bribery scandals.

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7/24/11