Attorney General Jim Hood apparently can't stand any competition. He issued this press release last week:
Attorney General Jim Hood issued the following statement today after the House Judiciary-A Committee’s vote in favor of HB 944, sponsored by the committee's chairman, which would grant the state auditor unprecedented authority to request wiretaps, investigate certain cases, hire outside counsel and impanel grand juries.
“The bill sponsored by the chairman of House Judiciary-A is nothing more than petty partisan politics. My staff never had the opportunity to testify in committee against a proposal that may circumvent state law and violate the separation of powers.
“For the nearly 200 years of our state’s existence, the Attorney General has served as the state’s chief legal officer. While serving in that role, I have repeatedly requested that the Legislature grant my office wiretap authority, only to see those bills die session after session. Now, in this brazen political stunt, this bill takes identical language from my draft legislation and gives that authority to the auditor, who has no experience as a prosecutor and is not permitted by state law and court rule to attend grand jury proceedings.
“It is my hope that the full House will reject this bill and will see the proposal for what it is: Politicians playing partisan games with the people’s money and time.”
Well, perhaps Mr. Hood should try doing his job. The running joke over at the offices of the Auditor and the Secretary of State is that criminal referrals disappear into a black hole once they make it to the Sillers Building. if anything, the bill does not go far enough as the Securities Division of the Secretary of State should be given prosecution powers as well. The Steadivest case was referred to the AG's office where it just.... disappeared.
The State Auditor can refer a case to a District Attorney or the Attorney General for prosecution. The current State Auditor has referred over a dozen cases to District Attorneys for criminal prosecution that just sit there.... collecting dust. Kind of like Cliff Torrence's file in Judge Breland's courtroom.
Mississippi is the most corrupt state in the nation. If anything, we need more prosecutors, not less. Mr. Hood comes off as a partisan who is upset that he won't be able to control investigations any longer. That, however, is a good thing.
Didn't Ray Mabus have prosecution powers as State Auditor? If so, how come the Democrats don't talk about restoring such powers?