This post title is a quote from today’s Sun Herald given by Mike Moore in response to an allegation made by Judge Henry Lackey that parrots an often repeated State Farm PR talking point regarding Jim Hood being pressured by Mike Moore on behalf of Dickie Scruggs to drop his criminal investigation of State Farm. I’m unsure how Judge Lackey would know such things but perhaps it does illuminate how the man thinks and operates. My blog partner Nowdy has covered Judge Lackey’s sometimes confusing testimony here and here for those interested. Here is today’s story:
Attorney General Jim Hood denies his predecessor delivered a warning that a wealthy lawyer would fund an opponent in last year’s election if Hood didn’t cooperate in Hurricane Katrina litigation.
The allegation was made by Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, who is at the center of a judicial bribery scandal that toppled some of the most powerful attorneys in Mississippi.
Lackey was testifying Tuesday in a civil lawsuit when he claimed former Attorney General Mike Moore approached Hood on behalf of tort lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs. Scruggs allegedly wanted Hood to drop his criminal investigation of State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. over the insurer’s handling of homeowners’ claims.
“No, Mike Moore never approached me with such a message,” Hood said Tuesday in a statement. “Judge Lackey was right to turn the case over to the federal government, which has the wiretap authority that the state lacks.”
Scruggs pleaded guilty March 14 to conspiring to bribe Lackey in an unrelated case. Lackey testified he never informed Hood’s office about the bribery attempt because he was told Hood had been approached by Moore on Scruggs’ behalf. Instead, Lackey went to the FBI.
Moore said Wednesday there’s no truth to Lackey’s claim.
“That’s the biggest bunch of bull I’ve ever heard,” Moore said.
Moore, as attorney general in the 1990s, hand-picked Scruggs to lead the legal assault on tobacco companies that resulted in multibillion-dollar payouts.
This is not the first time allegations have surfaced that Scruggs sent messengers to tell Hood how to handle cases against State Farm.
An FBI report made public in February said Scruggs paid $500,000 to two men now entangled in the bribery investigation – New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci and former state Auditor Steve Patterson – to persuade Hood not to file criminal charges against State Farm.
Scruggs, who was suing State Farm on behalf of storm victims, was afraid the insurer “was not going to settle the civil cases” if the attorney general’s office filed criminal charges, according to the FBI report based on Balducci’s statements.