Six degrees of ethical separation is shaving it close

Another reporter and I once played one of those six-degrees-of-separation games between commission members and some elected folk. It was a hoot.

For instance, let’s say, hypothetically, of course, that Attorney General Jim Hood were the subject of an ethics complaint. One degree. His brother is the director of the agency, which, among other things, investigates claims of nepotism in state government. Ethics Director Tom Hood was on hand Thursday when supporters of the reform bill announced that, among other things, it would crack down on nepotism.

A little over a year ago, I called the commission with questions about Mississippi Department of Transportation Director Butch Brown. Questions were being asked about Brown’s son profiting from a government borrowing program orchestrated by Brown.

Brown told me he had an Ethics Commission opinion saying that everything was hunky-dory.

One of the six who voted in favor of this opinion was Ethics Commissioner Walter Brown. Two degrees. While not related to the MDOT Brown, Walter was his longtime friend who had represented Butch Brown as his personal lawyer and served as city attorney of Natchez when Butch Brown was mayor.

Don’t you just get an ethical feeling all over?

Geoff Pender
Sun Herald