The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/12/8

Numerous subplots lurk beneath the issue of the Legislature regulating the expenditure of taxpayer money on advertising.

For instance, all sides generally agree that talk shows owned by one of the primary beneficiaries of state advertising contracts, TeleSouth Communications, adamantly opposed the re-election of Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, as speaker of the House earlier this year.

Gov. Haley Barbour and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, both Republicans, have said the House’s insistence of dealing with the issue of state advertising contracts is being done as retribution against TeleSouth because its talk show hosts have been critical of McCoy and his Democratic leadership team. They portray it as a freedom of speech or censorship issue.

It is also widely known that TeleSouth Communications’ owner, Steve Davenport, is a close friend of and campaign fundraiser for Bryant. Davenport introduced Bryant on election night in November before he gave his victory speech.

McCoy said “we’re just trying to put a little sunshine on the spending of taxpayer money on advertising. We want to make sure we have a competitive situation. What is wrong with that?”