Sunday, March 6, 2016

Clarion-Ledger is showing you the money

The state newspaper has been engaging in a serious bout of investigative journalism in the last few Sunday editions.  It took aim at our seriously weak and ineffective campaign finance laws.  Some call Mississippi campaign finance "legalized bribery".  The Clarion-Ledger  began its series on February 20 with this story:

Mississippi is one of six states that don't have an explicit ban on spending campaign funds for personal use. Brent Ferguson, counsel in the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program at New York University, said that could be an issue.

“It definitely creates a problem because when people are giving campaign donations, they expect them to be used for the election, so it’s somewhat dishonest to take that money pledged for the election and use it for personal causes to enrich yourself,” he said.

The types of spending that constitute personal use vary from state to state. For instance, some state laws consider contributions to other candidates’ campaigns and donations to churches as personal expenses while others don’t. Some states identify specific types of spending they consider personal use, such as household food or supplies, clothing, or fees to a country club or other organization.....

Mississippi’s campaign finance laws lack safeguards that most states have had for years, such as a ban on personal use of donations and a cap on contributions from individuals.

Mississippi and 11 other states don’t limit the amount individuals can donate, but the state also lacks caps on contributions from political action committees and lobbyists. State law does ban corporate donations over $1,000, and companies can receive fines of $1,000 to $5,000 for donation violations. But without other types of contribution limits, companies can sidestep the corporate donation cap by getting company executives and other individuals to donate.

“I think contribution limits are the most important safeguard against the possibility or appearance of corruption, and contribution limits help to ensure just a few wealthy donors aren’t capable of having undue influence in the election process,” said Anthony Corrado, a professor at Colby College who serves as an adviser at the Committee for Economic Development and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution..

In Mississippi, the secretary of state and attorney general’s office are primarily responsible for enforcement when it comes to campaign finance laws. The agencies have the most enforcement power when it comes to disclosure, but candidates and elected officials can receive fines of up to $3,000 or a six-month imprisonment for intentional violations.... Rest of article.
The reporting is even worse at the local level.  One will often find very little information in campaign finance reports for municipal and county races - if the report is even filed.  Lump sums are often written down on the forms and itemization is all too often non-existent.  The campaign finance laws and their enforcement are literally a joke in Mississippi but guess what? No one cares and that my friends, is the bottom line. 


Anonymous said...

Do you actually think anyone has ever cared or ever will care.
It is a way of bribing elected officials.
Those who are doing the bribing will not say anything.
Those who accept the bribes will not say anything.
Those who belong to the same party of those who accepted bribes will not say anything.

That leaves very few people. Most people are crooked but want to be allowed to commit their crimes. Ms. has a history of enabling those crooks.

Anonymous said...

The article last week was very enlightening. Get your man elected and reap no bid contracts from numerous agencies.Elections have $$$$ consequences.

Anonymous said...

11.18 is right. Everyone knows about this and all the PAC crony capitalism but very little seems to change. I feel all I do is read, bitch and post on blogs. For what is worth I will never vote for a career politician again. I will never vote for anyone that has used campaign funds for personal reason. I will never vote for anyone that Haley, Trent or any other lobbyist endorses. We just need more honest, non career politicians willing to run.

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of C-L, but this is most revealing investigative piece they have ever produced. They have virtually every significant politician (and a few that are not) running for cover and refusing to comment. Of particular note, our auditor and AG are ducking this issue like its a bad virus. These are the guys that we count on to watch everyone else. Sad day in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

Before we give up completely, maybe an anti-corruption ballot initiative. These folks seem to have done most of the heavy lifting for creating one:

Anti-Corruption Act Faq

I know enough to know I don't know anything about this but maybe a learned JJ reader could weigh in.

Anonymous said...

Oh yea.... And I will never vote for anyone that works for or has a family member working for Butler Snow.

For 11:16 said...

"Most people are crooked..."? Bullshit!

Anonymous said...

2:43, Yes, most people are crooked. How else could you explain the politicians the people keep electing?

Anonymous said...

How is this bribing? Don't we have to pay for good government?

Anonymous said...

This is nothing but legalized bribes. However, any campaign money spent for personal purposes is subject to federal and state taxation. Either the IRS or the DOR could put these thieves in jail.

Anonymous said...

So Lynn Fitch could put Stacey Pickering in jail? What universe do you live in?

Get The Fax said...

Lynn Fitch isn't with DOR or the IRS. Pay attention!

Anonymous said...

Oh Delbert, where are you?

Anonymous said...

Repubs covering for Repubs. That is what the Repub establishment does. Now will they roll on Pickering?

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS