As the media and the GOP begin their inevitable scrutiny of Joe Biden, the newly-named running-mate of Barack Obama, he’ll undoubtedly find himself answering questions about his past. Among those questions could be one that falls squarely within LB jurisdiction: Biden’s connection to famed plaintiffs lawyer Dickie Scruggs and others in Mississippi’s legal community.
Last month, as we did clean-up on the L’Affaire Scruggs story, a couple things happened: Dickie, who pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to bribe a state-court judge, discovered he would serve out his five-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky. Meanwhile, Judge Neal Biggers surprised Dickie’s son, Zach, who pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of misprision — knowing, concealing and failing to tell — by hitting him with a 14-month sentence.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden spent part of July paying down his campaign debt, which entailed giving back campaign donations from both Dickie and Zach.
First, some background: When the Scruggs news broke in December, the LB reported that Steve Patterson (pictured, left) and Tim Balducci (pictured, right), who were both charged alongside Scruggs (pictured, below), had grand ambitions to turn their firm, Patterson Balducci in New Albany, Miss., into a Democratic lobbying shop and law firm. Patterson (not a lawyer) and Balducci (a lawyer) had opened an office in D.C. and lured a number of influential Mississippi Democrats to affiliate with their firm.
Balducci and Patterson, as we’ve noted, once had high hopes for Biden. According to people familiar with their thinking, their bet on Biden (Syracuse law) was that he wouldn’t win the presidency but would become Secretary of State under a Hillary Clinton administration. In August, Balducci, Patterson, Scruggs and others hosted an Oxford. Miss., fundraising event for Biden. By December, employees of Patterson Balducci had contributed about $26,000 to the Biden campaign, according to fundraising records. According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Patterson, Balducci, Dickie and Zach had contributed $2,300 each to Biden’s campaign.
Last week, the L.A. Times Top of the Ticket blog reported that in July Biden slashed his campaign debt to $173,999 from $1.15 million the previous month, according to Federal Election Commission records. (Biden spent $13.8 million on his candidacy and dropped out of the race after a poor showing in Iowa.) His July expenses included giving refunds of $2,300 to both Dickie and Zach.