Sun Herald – Simpson says ‘people are sick of corruption’

BILOXI — Republican attorney general candidate Steve Simpson said his career has covered nearly all facets of the state’s justice system and that makes him uniquely qualified for the job.

In a meeting with the Sun Herald on Wednesday, Simpson, 52, outlined his accomplishments and goals if elected as attorney general. He faces incumbent Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, who met with the Sun Herald on Tuesday, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Simpson graduated from Delta State University — where he played basketball — with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and master’s in education in 1981. He returned to his native Coast to work with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. As a probation and parole officer assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, he said he “got hooked” watching criminal prosecutors at work. His father, a longtime legislator, and then-District Attorney Albert Necaise encouraged him to go to law school.

Simpson said he would also change the way the Attorney General’s Office hires outside lawyers to handle large cases for the state. He has criticized Hood for giving contracts with multimillion-dollar fees to friends and-or law firms that contribute money to Hood’s campaign coffers.

Simpson said he would introduce legislation to create a committee of appointees from the governor, lieutenant governor, House speaker, state bar and others to take proposals from firms for the work. He said he would also push for Mississippi firms to get preference for the work and said too many out-of-state firms are now getting millions from the state’s litigation.

“Right now, there is no oversight and no transparency for the public to scrutinize these contracts,” Simpson said.

Simpson said he would also, if elected, review past cases of judicial and other corruption where the attorney general’s office declined to investigate or prosecute, leaving action up to federal enforcement. He said he would see if there are still state charges that could be brought in such cases.

10/13/11