Mississippians awoke like me this morning to see veteran columnist Bill Minor unleashing a hate-fueled screed in the general direction of “boy Treasuer” Tate Reeves on the op-ed page of today’s Clarion Ledger.
Minor conjured up the vitriol and bitterness that only the father of a disgraced, jailed tort baron convicted of judicial bribery and corruption could muster. In it, Minor was long on revisionist history and allegations but completely devoid of anything to back up his attacks. Let’s take a look.
He takes a hard swipe at how Reeves got elected.
How Reeves in 2003 was plucked by Republicans from a low-level job at a Jackson bank and plugged into the treasurer’s office at barely 29 years of age is worth recalling. Democrats nominated Gary Anderson, an experienced financial consultant and former state budget officer, with high hopes he would become the first black candidate to win statewide office since Reconstruction. No surprise: The white guy won.
I’m tired of hearing this and it’s time to debunk this for good.
The truth is that there were a lot of dynamics going on, but race (unfortunately for Minor) wasn’t one of them. Although Anderson had lots of government experience, he was a bad candidate. He didn’t communicate well. He wasn’t particularly telegenic. That was absolutely proven when he ran against Mike Chaney and lost although he did unseat George Dale as Dickie Scruggs’ political pawn – remember “lipstick on a pig“?
The best candidates win political races (just ask John McCain). Anderson has yet to be the best candidate in either political race he ran in. He was completely outraised and outworked by Reeves and Chaney. Plus Anderson hitched his wagon completely and totally to then Governor Ronnie Musgrove who also got outraised and outworked by a much superior political candidate (now-Governor Haley Barbour). To say that Reeves was some unexperienced kid that was put in the State Treasurer’s office because he was white is as wrong as it is offensive.
Reeves resume is strong. He has his CFA designation, which is a rigorous test taken over three years with a huge failure rate. He has now emerged as one of the leaders of his peer group as he was elected President of the National Treasurer’s Association. He also posted a huge re-election number (61%), which means Mississippians must think Reeves is doing something right.
Then the allegations come out.
Since Reeves, at 34, is warming up to become a longtime player in state Republican politics, more scrutiny is needed on his less-than-transparent handling of the treasurer’s office. What immediately comes to mind is learning into which banks – and how much – he has deposited state funds. Let’s see how deposits match with bank officials’ political contributions.
Mr. Minor. don’t just say it. Make a case. I would urge you to do some research here, but I know that facts are pretty inconvenient for both your career and the legal situation of your son Paul. My sense is that there’s no case to be made here, but I’d be glad to review the data if any such exists. Unfortunately, my research time is pretty limited. Your son and his friends’ legal escapades candidly have kept me pretty damn busy.
However, I have some news for Mr. Minor. Officially gone are the days when bitter slanted “journalists” can drop a 626 word bomb of loose allegations and innuendo unchecked and not get called out on it in public and for real. Just like I hope that the days are gone that lawyers can bribe judges for money and sport, while their paid PR machine grinds away telling us all it’s OK.
The truth is that having Minor write this about Reeves probably does more good for Reeves than Minor realizes. Either way, Minor should be ashamed.