Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The revolving door, Mississippi version

Good ole Haley Barbour has finished up his second and final term as Governor of Mississippi. He gained some national attention with his defenses of the Confederate flag and the White Citizens Council. Now, the present-day Cincinnatus is going back to his plow. In ole Haley's case, his farm is the field of influence-peddling politely know as lobbying. Kate Ackley reports for Roll Call, Haley Barbour’s Back at His Old Firm 01/10/2012:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who left office today, wasted no time in lining up his next career move. As expected, the former uber-lobbyist and founder of BGR Group will return to his old firm, the lobby shop announced today.

In a short statement, the firm said it "is pleased to announce Governor Haley Barbour will return to the firm as Founding Partner." Haley did a stint prior to his governorship as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Barbour, a longtime Washington insider known for his Mississippi drawl, remained a presence inside the Beltway even while serving as governor. In 2009, he was elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a position that regularly brought him to D.C. And when he considered a presidential run, he had a long list of former colleagues and clients who were ready to line up in support. [my emphasis]
But Ole Haley left something for his former Mississippi constituents to remember him by. He pardoned four murders on his way out the door of the Governor's office, two of them who had murdered their wives. (Ronni Mott, Barbour to DV Victims: ‘You Can’t Trust Us’ Jackson Free Press 01/10/2012)

Jessica Bateman reports in Karen Irby, 207 others granted reprieves by Haley Barbour Jackson Clarion-Ledger 01/10/2012:

In total, Barbour has granted clemency to 41 offenders in prison for killing and many others who committed violent or sex-related crimes.

... 39 prisoners who were granted clemency committed a slew of other violent crimes, including rape, aggravated assault, assault to a law enforcement officer and armed robbery. Thirty-two of those people received full, complete and unconditional pardons from the governor.

At least seven of the convicts who were pardoned committed sex-related crimes, including rape, forcible sexual battery, gratification of lust and attempted enticement of a child for sexual purposes or prostitution. After receiving pardons, they are no longer required to register as sex offenders.
Bateman provides a comparison with the three previous Governors' pardons:

Compared to past Mississippi governors, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove granted an unconditional pardon to only one person. He granted 25 suspended sentences or restorations of civil rights, which reinstates the right to vote to felony offenders.

Former Gov. Kirk Fordice pardoned 13, and granted suspended sentences or restorations of civil rights to 26 more. Former Gov. Ray Mabus pardoned five, and granted 68 suspended sentences or restorations of civil rights, although he later revoked those rights from 11.

And former Gov. Bill Allain granted no pardons at all, but granted restorations of civil rights to 28.
Ackley' report quotes Sandy Middleton, executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention, on the message Barbour's pardons of the wife-murderers sends:

"The criminal-justice system works here," Middleton said. "Law enforcement did their jobs."

But Barbour's pardons "flies in the face" of the people who work hard to get these offenders away from their victims, she added, in addition to the victims themselves.

"It just puts us back to square one," when it comes to the people at the receiving end of the violence, Middleton said. The message Barbour sends to them is that "You can't trust us, because we're really not going to protect you."
But Republicans are the Family Values party, remember that.

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