The Mess In Mississippi

Patterson and Balducci had grand ambitions — they wanted their firm to become a leading Democratic lobbying shop/law firm with a reach stretching beyond Mississippi, according to people familiar with their plans. They opened an office in Washington, D.C., and lured a number of influential Mississippi Democrats to affiliate with their firm, including Bill Allain, the former Mississippi governor.

Patterson has been a player in Mississippi Democratic circles for some time. Early in his career, he worked for John Stennis, the longtime U.S. senator from the state, and later served as a Mississippi Democratic party chairman. In 1996, his political ambitions were derailed when he resigned as Mississippi state auditor after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false documents to avoid paying county taxes on car tags.

Most recently, Balducci and Patterson had thrown their weight behind the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. Joseph Biden, whom Mr. Patterson got to know while working for Sen. Stennis. Indeed, Balducci had a Biden bumper sticker on his red Ford truck, according to someone who rode in it. Their bet on Biden was that he wouldn’t win the presidency but would become Secretary of State under a Hillary Clinton administration, according to two people familiar with their thinking.

In August, Balducci, Patterson, Allain, Scruggs, and two others hosted a Oxford fundraising event for Biden. Employees of Patterson Balducci have contributed about $26,000 to the Biden campaign, according to fundraising records.

WSJ Law Blog