In order to head off the predictable “political persecution of Democratic donors” defense that everyone sees coming, the folks at Y’allPolitics would like to point out that the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI did Mississippi Democrats an enormous favor. By all accounts, Balducci made his original overtures to Lackey in the April timeframe, and he was likely working with the Government through out the primary and general election timeframe. My sense is that the timing on this investigation could have been sprung at any point from about August 1 up until the time they did execute the search warrants on Scruggs’ office and hand down the indictments.
These indictments in September or October would have yielded a drastically different political landscape. There is no question that the Insurance Commissioners race would not have been that close. It is likely that conservative House/Senate candidates may have gotten embroiled in where they received moneys from those in or near the group of indictees. It is also likely that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, John Arthur Eaves, would have lost considerable ground as Haley’s machine would have surely moved in for the political kill. Several close House and Senate races might have gone in the other direction. In short, a Scruggs & Co. indictment before the November election would have spelled even worse political disaster for Mississippi Democrats than losing 7 of 8 statewide races and having a House Speaker race in the balance.
And then there’s Jim Hood.
Whether or not Hood would have lost to Al Hopkins as a result of this happening a few weeks before the election is debatable. However, I think Hood would have been forced to act very differently than he now can. He can now hide from this and not promise further action on behalf of the state. In a campaign mode, he would have been forced to react.
The bottom line is that it appears that there is some sensitivity from the Government after the catcalls of political motivations pointed at the Feds from the Minor trial. Regardless, the Feds seemed locked into what everyone believes will be an inevitable in court showdown with Scruggs, who I believe will fight it all the way to a verdict.