Attorney General’s staff used nonprofit luncheon with Jim Hood to solicit campaign contributions

May 26th, 2010 by Perry

I attended the economic development luncheon Monday sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Jackson where Attorney General Jim Hood spoke. The Jackson Free Press was the only media (I noticed) in the room and Adam Lynch wrote about Hood’s answer to a question on the health care lawsuit: “Hood: Don’t Waste Resources on Health-Care Suit.” Majority in Mississippi and the Mississippi Democratic Party both blogged on that story as well.

There were a few other interesting items from the luncheon I thought I’d share as the focus appears to be only on his health care comments.

It was your typical luncheon with good food and good people held at the University Club in Jackson. Everyone introduced themselves and the talk began. Special Assistant Attorney General Deshun T. Martin introduced Attorney General Jim Hood. Martin said you judge a man by his actions not his words and praised three efforts by Hood: his successful prosecution in the Killen Trial in Neshoba County, his efforts at combating cyber-crime, and his lobbying for the 2007 Comprehensive Crystal Meth Reduction Act (which he claims that MBN numbers show led to a 70% reduction in meth crimes).

(On a side note, Martin was praised by several people there as a top notch attorney; I had not met him before. One of his brothers, Precious Martin, has a long relationship with Hood as well. Precious has contributed thousands to his campaign, has served as President of the Mississippi Association for Justice - the new name of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association - and was one of the lead contingency fee contract attorneys for Hood in the state’s lawsuits against Microsoft and BASF.)

Hood gave a standard “this is what the Office of Attorney General does” speech. He noted that his office had sent guides to 2700 churches and 2500 organizations and nonprofits in the community explaining what his office does. He discussed domestic violence and cyber crimes.

He noted his office had increased the number of minority workers. He said when he started in 2003, 9% of lawyers in his office were black; 11% of investigators were black; and 31% of support staff were black. Now in 2010, those numbers had increased to 19% of his lawyers are black; 32% of his investigators are black; and 40% of his support staff are black. He said that only 9% of attorneys in Mississippi are black.

He finished up his speech telling the crowd that he would be going to Washington DC to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this week regarding oil spill litigation and his efforts at demanding transparency from BP. Then he took questions from the audience.

As Hood left the podium, Special Assistant Attorney General Deshun Martin stood up and kept Hood there. Martin said while Hood is a consummate prosecutor, he needed people like Martin to be the politicians for him. Martin stood next to Hood and told the group they needed to support Hood’s campaign by contributing and they could contact Martin at the Attorney General’s Office or send him a check.

To be fair, Hood seemed a little embarrased by this. I’m unaware of state laws that prohibit state employees from soliciting campaign contributions for their employers and instructing those interested to contact him at the state office to do so. I know if he had been a federal official, this would be major trouble. As it is, while it smells bad, it might turn out to be fine and legal. (It could be there is a violation of § 23-15-871, but an attorney would know better.)

As the luncheon wound down, J.R. Jones stood up at the podium to wrap up the event and said thank-you to Hood and Martin and said that supporting campaigns are important and that they all need to “learn we must pay to play.”

Then former Seventh Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Robert Gibbs, now an attorney for the Brunini Law Firm, stood up and said that Hood provides some of the best leadership for Democrats in Mississippi and the group should certainly support him, but that those present should also seek out additional good Democrats to support in upcoming statewide elections.

I thought while others were writing/blogging about the luncheon, I’d throw my notes into the mix as well. I believe Adam Lynch with the Jackson Free Press might have video of the luncheon. If so, he would be better able to give precise quotes on what all was said to anyone interested.

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