Wednesday, April 10, 2019

CL: Higher Ed Spent Millions Lobbying

Mississippi universities love them some lobbyists.  The Clarion-Ledger put on its good government hat today as it reported Mississippi universities spend nearly $2 million on lobbying public officials:

Seven of Mississippi’s eight public universities and their private foundations spent nearly $2 million on lobbying over the past four years, a Clarion Ledger analysis found. That amount includes money for staff lobbyists and private lobbying firms, plus wining, dining and entertaining lawmakers.
The analysis found:
  • Universities provided more than $276,000 combined in freebies for officials over four years. Including receptions, the total is nearly $350,000. 
  • Nearly 40 officials received $2,000 or more in gifts and services. The top-five lawmakers received between $6,600 and $8,500 apiece.
  • Gifts to lawmakers included Ruth's Chris Steak House meals at $174 per plate, sports memorabilia worth $376 and single-game ticket packages valued at $1,500.
  • Despite these lobbying efforts, university funding has dropped 12 percent since 2016.

These public universities lavish money on public officials in hopes of getting more public dollars. And they spend more than most any other special interest groups seeking influence in the Capitol.

Last year, the state's three largest universities showered officials with $58,000 in freebies — about three times more than Mississippi Power, Entergy and electric co-op lobbyists gave out combined.

In Mississippi it's all completely legal. The state's lack of restrictions on gifts to public officials — restrictions many other states have — means elected officials, their families and even friends can benefit from unlimited freebies without worry.

Good stuff, as they say.  Read the rest of the article.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

The universities should not be allowed to give sporting event tickets to IHL board members. It is clearly a conflict of interest.

Anonymous said...

IF you don't play the game when they are divvying up money you get left out...

Anonymous said...

Who woke up down there(CL) and why?

Anonymous said...

OK 10:52, where does this article say anything about tickets to IHL members?

That used to be a perk, written into policy, as part of being appointed to College Board. But it was scratched several years ago, and the board members no longer get those tickets.

Now, go back to the subject of the article and the examples used. For example, what reason would they have for giving freebies to the State Treasurer, Lynn Fitch? She has nothing to do with the setting of university legislative policy - guess she was just one of those officials that asked for something free.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi has one state senator for every 57,400 people. Texas has one state senator for every 702,000 people. This "over representation" in Mississippi invites corruption, and not to mention, depletes the states funds. Why can't we do something right?

Anonymous said...

So 11:21, you are promoting the bribery of public officials as the only way to accomplish anything?

Anonymous said...

We need to drain the Mississippi swamp of every politician that accepts these “gifts”. Unfortunately as long as the party puts them on the ballot with the little r next to their name, the corruption is guaranteed to continue.

Anonymous said...

Would it be safe to say this isn't new and lobbying has been going on for years. Whether agree or disagree I'm not surprised.

Rod Knox said...

Corruption in Mississippi state government is likely as rampant as it is in Mexican states. Only the outsiders whose escapades result in them obviously living above their means get any attention. If the recently embarrassed DOC commissioner had entered politics from a wealthy family no one would have paid any attention to his various homes and he would have known to keep a lower profile when buying cars. The state auditor could be the wealthiest man in the state if he played his cards right and skimmed a little off the top of all the other crook's petty cash.

Anonymous said...

Why do you need a lobbyist? If you want money from the feds or the state all you have to do is promise to name the project or building after whichever politician you are asking for money.

Anonymous said...

So what is the source of this money? My taxes or my tuition?

Anonymous said...

Wait, there is actually a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Mississippi? Aw, go on.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Highway patrol leader in Starkville used to get about 20 tickets for each game.

Anonymous said...

These trinkets and freebies are pennies compared to the real scam and how big of an insider's game it truly is.

Shad White announced early after he was appointed that K-12 attendance was being reported correctly, so everyone could just quiet down. He. Is. A. Liar. No true investigation was ever done. He and his team just took the word of who, the superintendents? or the attendance officers who are threatened to keep quiet about rampant unlawful absences? Why? Because Shad wants to run for higher office and be part of the good ole' boys that will help him get there.

After the great Surrender, cotton gins once employed thousands of poor whites with a living wage - those are now public schools, and if you can't be trusted to play the game, then you're not allowed in the inner circle. (Lynn Fitch is about as useless as they come - and eighth grader could fulfill whatever the hell she does all day - but she keeps her mouth shut.)

In Mississippi, if you're not on the take, they you're not trusted. It's no different than the corrupt police precincts around the country. But I digress - the real scam - and this especially involves the IHL - is everyone knowingly looking the other way. No REAL audits have ever been done on the colleges and universities who've been swimming in yes, BILLIONs of dollars in financial aid (for decades mind you) that pays tuition and is chiseled away to build unneeded buildings and pay bloated salaries, and justify slush funds to pay for all kinds of favors.

The reported cutting of the funding while all this is happening doesn't matter, because the real scam is looking the other way while ALL the colleges and universities over report attendance, enrollment, and completion rates to keep getting those federal dollars that pay the tuition justified. Everyone is in on the scam top to bottom. Forensic federal audits are long overdue....as well as why the AG, State Auditor, and others have failed to investigate.

Oxford was charged with lack of institutional control....that pretty much sums up Mississippi as a whole. It's entire populace is being skimmed and chiseled for hundreds of millions....all in the name of education....which by and large, isn't even happening.

Anonymous said...

Our legislature is corrupt - Dem and Rep alike. But we all laugh it off or say, well its been going on forever. How much does it cost you to take your family to one of the SEC games? 500-600-700 or more. But, ok, we keep electing them because we are too fucking stupid and buy into their bullshit policy positions (which are bought and paid for sometimes with our own tax money).

Anonymous said...

List of distinguished gift takers (from government entities) compliments of the Clarion Ledger.

Sen. Terry Burton: $8,513.92
Rep. Randall Patterson: $7,647.96
Sen. Rita Parks: $7,281.80
Rep. Kevin Horan: $6,877.43
Rep. Jeff Smith: $6,602.80
Rep. Tracy Arnold: $5,857.23
Rep. Nolan Mettetal: $5,775.21
Rep. Trey Lamar: $5,709.96
Sen. Sally Doty: $5,646.32
Rep. Steve Holland: $5,593.60
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn: $5,345.90
Sen. Nickey Browning: $4,876.13
Rep. Nick Bain: $4,873.98
Sen. Briggs Hopson: $4,867.92
Sen. Lydia Chassaniol: $4,723.38
Sen. Bill Stone: $4,437.32
Rep. Chris Brown: $4,306.71
Rep. Jim Beckett: $4,174.26
Sen. Josh Harkins: $3,823.09
Rep. Tommy Reynolds: $3,758.22
Rep. Randy Boyd: $3,637.82
State Treasurer Lynn Fitch: $3,297.04
Rep. Mac Huddleston: $3,253.12
Rep. Cheikh Taylor: $3,000.00
Sen. Joey Fillingane: $2,810.65

Anonymous said...

Public official whores!

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that these same legislators who can accept gifts with impunity have written laws that don't allow certain educators to accept anything more than a doughnut from a vendor. (Real reg passed after a certain group deigned to question no bid, multiple year tech contracts.

Anonymous said...

Tip of the iceberg....only scratches the surfaces of the graft that perpetually goes on within the educational industrial complex that keeps Mississippi afloat....and barely treading water.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing is that this post only has about 20 comments. All of the mindless followers of one party or the other turn their heads to this graft because they are more interested in winning than having honest, independent leadership. And, of course the paid political lackeys that troll this site defending their "honorable" leaders won't even touch this subject, because what could they say? "Oh, well, Speaker Gunn likes to inspect the facilities at the university on game day to insure they are adequate." or "Lt. Gov. Reeves wants to insure that the food being served in the skybox is safe for consumption."

Anonymous said...

I'm sure ole Philip Gunn only accepts those free game tickets so he can witness to the hooligans in the seats around him and influence them to be better people through the example of his sanctimonious behavior. If he's getting in on any of those fancy steak dinners, I'm sure it's only because he wants to make sure someone is blessing the food. He's a fine Christian man. I know because he's told me so many many times.

Anonymous said...

11:45 A.M. is right on. Mississippi has far too many elected officials.
Additionally, Mississippi has far too many institutions of higher learning. There is an institution of higher learning in every wide spot in the road of this state. One would think that we would be more educated.

Anonymous said...

One better clear the road way on game day with all the speeding MHP personnel chauffeuring officials to the various football games.
Get out of the way!!!

Anonymous said...

I’m not a practicing attorney, but I thought the law in Mississippi was that law enforcement personnel can not lawfully exceed the speed limit but for a life threatening emergency with lights & siren engaged. If that in-fact is the law, what a shameful disregard of the law by those sworn to uphold it. I wonder if they teach that to the cadets at the academy.

Anonymous said...

And the ignorant masses continue to keep their heads buried in the sand on this issue so that they may continue to worship and idolize their ignorant leaders.

Anonymous said...

7:16 It's not that Mississippi has too many colleges and universities, it's the top heavy nature of education that causes problems. The wealthy and powerful all have deep ties to their respective universities and those institutions have no problem stirring the money pots and sponsoring "lobbyists" for whatever they want. However Mississippi's real problems are in elementary and secondary education and they tend to have little or no ability to stir the legislative money pot or to make meaningful change especially in the poorer districts. The legislature and most other state officials wait for the favors of the rich not the cries of the poor. This has not changed since the inception of public education in Mississippi and no change is in sight.

Anonymous said...

9:07AM, u contradict ur self. The vast number of IHL institutions requires excessive expenses of numerous types, not to mention the competitiveness of lobbying for funds. Why does business consolidate; to streamline expenses. The same can & should apply to government. Mississippi IHL spend too much time & effort fighting each other rather than affording one a quality education. But, that is the nature of MS. MSians would rather b a big fish in a little pond, all want their own little selfish kingdoms. It is somewhat like the excessive # of elected officials one mentioned on a post.

Anonymous said...

I believe the point that 9:07 was making is that there are too many "administrative" positions (i.e. top heavy) throughout the higher ed system....but it also includes the feifdoms of the K-12 school districts....you should see how the pathetic/bully superintendents strutt around like little dictators. THEY are the "wealthy and powerful" because there are so many six figure, do-nothing, overlapping, duplicative roles in education.....but they have the money and the power to play to the insiders and dole out jobs, favors, and God know how much else is hidden.

Between the illumination of this corrupt reality of pay to play, and the one case of two-million stolen at merely one community college, you'd think Shad White would be tripling his staff to handle all the cases of higher ed malfeasance, fraud, graft, and corruption....but it appears he's a flake just like Stacy Pickering was/is....no backbone, no Christian zeal, and no integrity to go after what's truly keeping Mississippi at the bottom....it's rotten educational systems....and White's parents were educators....they've probably told him, "Don't even try, or they'll come after you." The AG is silent as well, and so would Mark Baker be. All of them: Bryant, Fitch, Hood, Hoseman....all of them are on the take in some way....and if you're not...."we can't trust ya" to "have my back" so they often say....wink, nod, smile.

Anonymous said...

@6:11pm So what is the source of this money? My taxes or my tuition? Very good question....Answer? Both....but it's washed through their "foundations" so they don't have to account for it. They can "say" it's all privately raised.....which is completely false. If the community colleges/universities didn't have the state/federal RIVER of money to support their scam, they'd mostly have to downsize by half. Everyone is conveniently looking the other way.

Anonymous said...

Most posters here seem to grasp the problem. The over riding problem is, of course, corruption. It saddens me that when these politicians r seeking election they wave a Bible, claim to be a deacon, eating fried chicken & apple pie with all the family around. When they get elected the Bible goes on the shelf, the filet mignon with lobster & French wine flow at the expense of lobbyists.
Mississippi has never had an aggressive AG or Auditor. I hope Ms Finch can b elected attorney general. I’ve known her to be a capable attorney & she is not likely to claim being a deacon.
I see her more a Trump republican rather than a John Kasich republican.

Anonymous said...

Please excuse the major typo. That should b Fitch not Finch.

Anonymous said...

Fitch has never prosecuted anyone.....and won't as an AG.

Anonymous said...

8:40AM I’ve lived in MS all my life & do not recall any AG prosecuting anyone. If they r ever in courtroom I’m sure it is just for cameras that assistants do all work.
Lynn Fitch has served as a Special Assistant Attorney General. I only heard good things about her.

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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!!!

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