Friday, October 05, 2007

Our Governor Makes Worldwide Headlines

While I was in Austria for a month, I kept up with local news by reading the Natchez Democrat online. However, most of the other news I heard or read was international. I was much surprised to see our very own Governor, Haley Barbour, making headlines around the world.

It all started with a story in the Bloomberg News outlining in glorious detail how Barbour's friends and family have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from hurricane related business. His former lobbying firm, which still makes payments to him, has represented four clients with business related to the recovery - not to mention casinos and tobacco companies. His nephew doubled his lobbying fees after Barbour appointed him to a special reconstruction panel. Another nephew's wife owned a company that managed FEMA trailers and is now being investigated by the FBI.

This article caused a major uproar. This is not some lefty blog or Democratic press release. Bloomberg is the largest financial news and data company in the whole wide world. It was founded by Michael Bloomberg, now the Republican Mayor of New York City, and it made him a gazillionaire. It has grown into a global financial news empire, including television, radio, Internet, and publications.

Shortly thereafter, Bloomberg News ran another article about Barbour's so called "blind trust". Barbour said he had severed ties to his former lobbying firm, but Bloomberg somehow got a copy of the trust, which says he still had a stake in the company worth $786,000 PLUS pension ($300,000 a year) and profit sharing. Barbour says his trust is legal in Mississippi. Yeah, but, as Bloomberg points out, Mississippi laws are ridiculous and require no disclosure. Barbour refuses to disclose his finances.

The website of the national magazine The Atlantic had a further article, recommending the author of the Bloomberg articles for a Pulitzer Prize. It states that:
"...there is already enough in the public domain to show that Governor Barbour knew that he had an ongoing stake in the work of his former lobbying firm."

The article also mentions a prior ethical lapse by Barbour, when he was Chairman of the National Republican Party. In 1993, he set up a not for profit organization called the National Policy Form, which was theoretically a think tank. However, in reality it was used as a vehicle for funneling foreign money into Republican campaigns. The IRS eventually shut down this boondoggle, ruling it was a subsidiary of the Republican Party and not a nonprofit group.

Conservative columnist David Brooks lambasted this and other corruption of the conservative Washington establishment in a column entitled "The Masters of Sleaze." He talks about the infamous convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but points out "Abramoff didn't do it on his own. It took a village." The village consisted of what he called the "sleazo-cons" - "people who, having read Barry Goldwater's 'Conscience of a Conservative', embraced the conservative part while discarding the conscience part." These were Barbour's buddies in Washington.

Then another national magazine, The New Republic, comes out with an article entitled "Barbourism: The K Street Evil Genius Who Took Over Mississippi". WOW - powerful stuff! This article sets out in detail how Barbour took the "K Street Project" he helped create in Washington and recreated it in Mississippi - and it's scary! The Washington K Street Project led to the conviction of Lobbyist Jack Abramhoff, the resignation of Majority Leader Tom Delay, etc. The American People eventually became disgusted with the corrupt Republican Party and voted Democrats into power in Washington.

And this corruption has come to Mississippi? Yep! Here's one example:
"After his election in 2003, Henry and Austin Barbour (Haley's nephews) joined Capitol Resources, a lobbying firm just steps from the governor's mansion--much like Barbour Griffith & Rogers overlooks Capitol Hill. The firm shares a number of BG&R's clients, including Northrop Grumman and Lorillard Tobacco Company. Most lobbying shops in Jackson are small, single-person firms, which, while business-friendly, have rarely dominated the legislature the way that Capitol Resources has, with its 15-strong battalion. 'They made a habit of going after other lobbyists' clients, saying, "If you want anything done in the Mississippi legislature, you better hire us,"' says one Democratic legislator."

And how does it work? Here's one small detail. Barbour vigorously opposed the cutting of the grocery tax and making up for it with an increase in the tobacco tax. Last year, he vetoed it. But this year:
"...the bills died at the hands of Senate finance committee chairman Tommy Robertson. Oddly, Robertson had been a vocal advocate of previous tax-swap bills. Earlier this year, however, he and two other Republican legislators--who, in their day jobs, are lawyers--had received a $1.2 million contract from the Mississippi Development Authority, which is overseen by the governor, to help homeowners finalize their Katrina grants."
The national and state media just took off on this story, and it's still out there. Do you know what most commentators say? "Those Mississippians believe all that BS that Barbour is feeding them. He'll win in a landslide."

Maybe not. Tommy Robertson, who killed the tax swap bill, was defeated in the Primary, in spite of Barbour campaigning for him. Insurance Commissioner George Dale, who sold out the victims of Katrina to the insurance companies, also lost in the primary. I'm not sure Mississippians are quite as dumb as those Yankees think we are.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, this time you are right about Haley, but look at the alternative, a billboard trial lawyer that has sued just about any and everything possible.
John Arthur Eaves is a schister of the first degree with a dubious history of his own.
You may think the Republicans are the enemy, but don't think the Democrats are your friend.
They both have the "bend over I'll drive" mentality.

Anonymous said...

This should surprise no one. The Republican faithful in Mississippi don't seem to remember why Barbour was fired by the Repubican National Committee. Remember the deal he made with a Chinese businness man in the 1990s? For $2 million donated to the RNC'S re-election campaigns Barbour would grant him access and influence with Republicans on Capitol Hill. Instead, Haley pocketed the money for himself. When the RNC found out, Barbour had to become the lobbyist he always was.
Outrage over who or how his financial information was leaked should be replaced with outrage over what's in that trust. He is still in league with the tobacco companies. Once a crook, always a crook.
Unfortunately, a large number of Mississippi voters aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. The idea of, "He's a good ol' boy and loves Ronald Reagan and Jesus" is enough to get him re-elected in this state.

Anonymous said...

No matter who started Bloomberg, it still a far-left news service. This election year hatchet job by the national, liberal media is so typical and could certainly be expected. If you actually read the "New Republic" acticle, there was nothing incriminating. It mostly talks about how powerful Haley Barbour and BRG are in Washington. Influence that certainly was beneficial when it came time to get billions from Washington to rebuild our coast. The Blind Trust attacks from the trial lawyer are laughable. That blind trust was approved by the Ethics Commission (which is run by Dem. Atty. General Jim Hood's brother) and now that it is an election year, the other side wants to make it an issue. The Governor has no ownership, but does receive a fixed retirement ammout from BRG. This amout does not change, and the performance of the firm has no effect on the amount. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Sen. Tommy Robertson was also mentioned in the post. The people of Jackson County tell me that Robertson lost because of the 3 dui arrest he has had, not because of his opposition to the tax swap. Speaking of the tax swap, there is not one person out there that can tell you how much cutting the grocery tax would effect the budget. There are many small towns in MS, small towns that whose grocery store is their main source of tax revenue. Cutting this tax could decimate their budget, and potentially dry up many small communities across the state. I am still wondering why George Dale was mentioned??? Is is because the trial lawyers are trying to by the Insurance Commissioner's office??? How much did Dickie Scruggs spend on the Gary Anderson-George Dale primary...hundreds of thousands. The last poster mentioned Barbour loving Reagan and Jesus. Where have you been??? The trial lawyer has made an effort to out-Jesus, everyone in the world. I know this is a liberal board. How does it make you guys feel when YOUR candidate talks about prayer in schools, gun freedoms, opposing gay marriage, and fighting abortion? Do you support him even though he is so far from your true core beliefs??? I know this has rambled, but that post hit on so many half truths. I will go back and read more and have more responces to the lunacy.

Anonymous said...

To anon 10:12:

If you call Bloomberg News a "far left news service", you show either your extreme bias or ignorance - which shows in the rest of your comments.

"Nothing incriminating" in the New Republic article? You sure have a strange definition of incriminating.

The "blind trust" was approved by the Ethics Commission, based on Mississippi law - which is laughable. Also, the AG and the Chair have said Barbour should disclose the details of the "blind trust". Barbour refuses. Wonder why? Of course, he's hiding something.

There's not enough time or space to address your other ridiculous comments.

Anonymous said...

So in an election year, the AG suddenly has a problem with the blind trust that has been in place since '04??? Purely partisan politics, that is all it is. What exactly was incriminating in the article? Granted, not all of it was flattering, but not incriminating. Are you insinuating there will be indictments??? That's crazy. Whether or not the MS laws regarding blind trusts are laughable (in your opinion) or not, the law was followed. Should anyone go above and beyond the law to satisfy you or Jim Hood? Let's let the trial lawyer disclose his tax returns and show how much he made by suing the Marine Corps or the U.S. Navy. When did the Chair of the Ethics Commission say this? Do you know who the Chair is? Show me in writing where that was said, it WAS NOT. Please tell me which of my other comments you consider ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Letter from the AG Office dated over a year ago: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/foi_pdfs/Blind%20Trust%20Documents1.pdf

Anonymous said...

Your comments about Eaves are straight from a Barbour attack ad. Here's a response: http://cottonmouthblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/dissecting-barbours-first-attack-ad-of.html

Anonymous said...

So how do liberals feel about their candidate trying to sound like such a social conservative?

Anonymous said...

Even if Hood did send the letter last year, the blind trust was in place for over 2 years before the AG decided he had a problem with it. The Governor did NOTHING illegal. Is John Arthur willing to disclose all of his assets?

Anonymous said...

How can anyone, Democrat, Republican or Independent compare and contrast the records and abilities of JAE and HB and even consider JAE. I guess hate and envy are just more than somefolks can overcome.

Casey Ann said...

"So how do liberals feel about their candidate trying to sound like such a social conservative?"

Southern Democrats have always been social conservatives. No big deal. The difference is on economic issues. Republicans, like Barbour, are owned by big money, like tobacco companies, casinos, the insurance industry, etc. Democrats are concerned about regular Mississippians who work for a living. Nothing demonstrates this better than the grocery tax/tobacco tax swap. There is NO logical reason to oppose this swap - unless you're beholden to the tobacco companies.

Anonymous said...

Casey-Do you consider yourself a social conservative? Some of what Eaves says is just so far from what the mainstream Dems believe in so strongly. Are you guys so determined to defeat Barbour that you will go with anyone that says he is a Democrat NO MATTER WHAT he believes? Is it ok as long as you know he likes to sue businesses in the name of helping "regular Mississippians who work for a living" all the while lining his own pockets? You said there is no logical reason to oppose the tax swap. Well no one knows how much sales tax is collected on groceries every year. Until we know this, why would ANY logical person support the swap? I am a regular Mississippian, who works for a living, that will be voting for Haley Barbour on Nov. 6th. One more thing, though we do not agree on any issue related to the Governor's race, I do agree with most of your positions with regard to local politics. No matter how far apart people are, there is always common ground. I want to thank you for providing this forum for people to post their views. (even those that differ from yours)

Anonymous said...

EAVES loses this election.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh! back to normal. Welcome Home

Anonymous said...

The fact that Eaves is trying to "out Jesus" his Republican opponent only proves the truth in the previous post about "loving Ronald Reagan and Jesus." To get elected in this state you have to pander to the mindless peasants. Who is the idiot ranting about "hate and envy?" What does reporting facts have to do with emotions such as hate and envy?

Anonymous said...

Mindless peasants?!?!?! Someone sounds like a liberal elitist with a comment like that. So you admit Eaves is pandering for votes?

Anonymous said...

I looked back through, and did not notice where anyone said anything about, "hate and envy." Where did you see that?

Anonymous said...

The "hate and envy" statement came from Anonymous 10/06/2007 3:27 PM

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Eaves is pandering for votes or not. I cannot read what is in a man's heart. His faith could be as sincere as any other mindless peasant.

Anonymous said...

As far as "liberal elitist" goes, the matter is quiet simple. Anyone who rejects hard, incontrovertible, demonstrable, scientific fact and instead defers to the alleged writings of a Bronze Age shepherd, is an ignoramus at best and an imbecile at worst.

Anonymous said...

With a comment like that, I assume you will not be voting for Eaves?

Anonymous said...

Our upcoming governor's race comes down to what you think is the lesser of two evils...a crook or a dumbass, take your pick. And the next time I hear either one of these bozos bring Jesus into this, I'm gonna throw up. Give me a break!