Early on in the Scruggs saga, our friends at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog did a Q&A with Mississippi lawyer-turned-writer John Grisham. A former resident of Oxford and longtime friend of Scruggs, he certainly did not throw Scruggs under the bus.
What do you make of the indictment of Dickie Scruggs?
My initial reaction was one of surprise. I know Dickie Scruggs. This doesn’t sound like the Dickie Scruggs that I know. I was really shocked by the news. When you know Dickie and how successful he has been you could not believe he would be involved in such a boneheaded bribery scam that is not in the least bit sophisticated. I don’t believe it. I hope it’s all proven to be wrong.
However, there was a fascinating piece of disclosure that Grisham left out. Grisham has been a long time donor in a closely held group of Mississippi political operatives called ICEPAC – Institute for Consumers and the Environment Political Action Committee. ICEPAC has been extremely involved with both direct judicial and legislative campaign contributions for over a decade and features a who’s who of the Mississippi Trial Lawyer community.
ICEPAC became the very definition of political walking around money in Mississippi featuring names like Scruggs, Minor, Langston and Grisham. Scruggs was a leader of the group and had his fingers on the strings. They retained an army of consultants that worked for a variety of campaigns. Yes, they game some money directly to campaigns, but they paid for a great deal of expertise for campaigns so that they didn’t have many fingerprints on things. As the finance reports below will attest, this was the most exclusive of exclusive political clubs in Mississippi, and Grisham was a regular player in it.
1996 Pre Election Report – Dickie Scruggs – $5K
1998 Report – Dickie Scruggs (now listed as Director) – $5K & John Grisham – $10K
1999 Report – Dickie Scruggs – $75K aggregate
1999 Report (early October) – Paul Minor $22K – Scruggs, another $5K
1999 Report (October) – John Grisham – $10K
2000 Report (November) – Joseph Cash Langston – $10K – John Grisham – $10K – Dickie Scruggs – $5K
2002 Report – Joseph Cash Langston – $5K – Paul Minor – $5K
Maybe Grisham was a true believer. Maybe he just wanted play insider for the dish for his mass tort novels. However, the fact remains, he was in an extremely exclusive club shared by Joey Langston, Paul Minor, and Dickie Scruggs.
Incidentally, on the disbursements of just about every report, you will find the firm Democratic Consulting Group. Jere Nash . . . Liberal political pundit, Clarion Ledger blogger and co-author of Mississippi Politics (where, guess who? . . . John Grisham wrote the foreword), is DCG, Inc. and has been the brains behind ICEPAC for a decade.
This is just one of many other follow the money trails we will be traveling as we look for people and patterns in these financial, legal and political relationships.