One of the questions during the redistricting fight a few months ago centered on who was paying attorney Robert McDuff to represent the interests of the House Elections Committee (well the Democrats on the committee that is). Many were speculating that the Mississippi Hospital Association may have had a hand in funding the House action as well as the Senate Democratic Caucus.
If you will recall, in late March the Democrats on this House committee decided to intervene in the redistricting lawsuit filed by the NAACP. They hired their own outside counsel in Robert McDuff. At the time, Rep. Tommy Reynolds (D), chairman of the House committee, stated, ““We want to make sure that the interests of the state House are represented in this lawsuit.”
We all knew what Reynolds really meant – House Democrats were fighting for their incumbent protection plan and ultimately what they believed to be control of the state House in this election.
Reynolds went on to say, “Rob McDuff is well versed in redistricting cases, having worked on voting rights cases in the past – including the state’s congressional redistricting case following the 1980 Census and the congressional redistricting case following the 2000 Census.”
Reynolds repeatedly stated that private funds would be used to pay McDuff, not state funds.
I did some checking and found no reference to McDuff on any disbursements from the MHA PAC to date. If they had a hand in funding the House challenge, it does not show on their public PAC reports.
What I did find was at least five House Democratic leaders who paid Robert McDuff directly from their campaign accounts. On the May 2011 campaign finances reports, the following House Democrats sent a check to McDuff:
Billy McCoy – $2,000
Tommy Reynolds – $1,000
George Flaggs – $1,000
Cecil Brown – $1,000
Bobby Moak (Believe PAC) – $2,500
All of these checks were cut in late April, just four weeks after the Democrats on the House Elections Committee voted to intervene.
When you follow the money trail, it is clear that these House Democratic leaders were indeed seeking to retain power by promoting the House to intervene in the redistricting suit filed by the NAACP. This foray into legal action came as Speaker McCoy failed to follow the legislative process in appointing conferees to the conference committee.
McCoy and his Boys entered into this frivolous litigation simply out of disdain for their more conservative colleagues who begged and pleaded for the House Democratic leadership to hear their collective voice and to work in good faith to address their concerns.
Yet, because of their unwillingness to compromise and act in a true bipartisan fashion, Mississippi redistricting remains uncertain as we head into these elections.