We’ve had a number of irons in the fire here at Slabbed and the now departed USA v Moultrie prosecution was one of our most popular subjects. Our Georgia based readers still visit everyday and leave an occasional comment. We are pleased some of y’all have decided to stick with us. We have been following the beef plant fallout from afar as other cases we cover have had activity. Today I have to chip in my two cents.
Politics is not my strong suit, and I don’t have much use for political bickering. I’m fair about it though. It was politics when the Scruggs lynch mob was going after Jim Hood for not prosecuting Scruggs only to find out later investigatory techniques used by the feds such as the wiretap were not available to Hood. Additionally it was later revealed federal investigatory conduct in judicial bribery would be considered entrapment under state law here in Mississippi. It was a good straw man while it lasted though as Hood has the PR skills of a caveman and was in parts his own worst enemy.
I mention politics because now some of the former Dickie Scruggs lynch mob is making excuses for current Senatorial candidate, confirmed toe sucker and the always for sale Ronnie Musgrove and the ironies are very delicious. To give our Georgia based readers some context we need to jump in the wayback machine and travel back a month to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Moultrie pleaded guilty Monday in Oxford, Miss., to giving an illegal gratuity to the re-election campaign of then-Miss. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in 2003………
“Obviously, it’s unfortunate for the individuals,” said one of the company’s lawyers, Richard Deane of Atlanta. “The company is now able to try to go forward without the stigma of either a charge or a conviction.”
Musgrove, a Democrat currently running for U.S. Senate, has not been charged.
Moultrie, 67, is expected to be sentenced within two months. The agreement says federal sentencing guidelines call for a 12- to 18-month prison term. U.S. District Judge Mike Mills will have the final say on how long Moultrie must serve.
The March indictment included allegations of conspiracy by company officials to “influence and reward” a public figure, and sent shock waves through Georgia political circles. The firm had spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to local, state and national candidates.
State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, served as a Facility Group marketing executive. He left the firm shortly after the indictment. He could not be reached Tuesday…….
Moultrie admitted making illegal campaign contributions to Musgrove’s campaign with the intent to win influence over the design and construction of the ill-fated Mississippi Beef Processors project.
In March 2003, when the plant already was over budget and behind schedule, Mississippi officials turned to Facility Construction Management, a division of the Facility Group, to manage the plant to completion. Moultrie soon planned a fund-raiser at his home for Musgrove, and several company employees were invited to attend and donate $1,000 each. The July 23, 2003, event raised about $50,000, and the employees were reimbursed for their donations, prosecutors said.
Moultrie also created The Facility Group Political Action Committee, which gave $20,000 to Musgrove’s campaign. But in September 2003, Musgrove asked for another $25,000, prosecutors said.
“Moultrie and Cawood subsequently had a conversation about giving this contribution to Musgrove intending to influence and reward him,” should his assistance be needed later for any potential problems at the project, prosecutors said.
On Sept. 30, 2003, the PAC gave another $20,000.
In August 2004, the beef processing plant opened for business. But the plant closed three months later.
Our Mississippi based readers probably do not have a good flavor for how big a political scandal this was in Georgia. What Moultrie did with Musgrove was nothing new as the story indicated. Politicians were routinely put on the Facility Group’s payroll and TFG got most every contract it wanted according to several blogs originating in places like the Georgia coast and the mountains of North Carolina as well as the Atlanta area. Deprived of it’s best marketing tool of political graft, I frankly have doubts TFG can survive but that would be another post.
No sooner had the ink dried on Mr Moultrie’s guilty plea when the supposed law and order crowd on the far left sprung into action suggesting the beef plant prosecution was a political prosecution. We start with Scott Horton, who has never met a criminal besides Dickie Scruggs he didn’t like:
To fill out the remaining year of Lott’s term, Governor Hailey Barbour tapped Roger Wicker, who is now seeking to win the seat in his own right. He’s being challenged by former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, who is given strong odds at picking off the seat for the Democrats.
But Wicker has a very powerful ally. His name is Jim Greenlee, and he is a prior donor to Wicker’s congressional campaign. Curiously, Greenlee neglected to note his position when he made the donation. He is the U.S. Attorney appointed by President Bush in northern Mississippi. But as the campaign season opens in earnest, it seems that no one is providing Wicker’s campaign with more valuable support than Greenlee.
The Greenwood (Mississippi) Commonwealth reports:
This past week’s developments in the four-year-old investigation into the failed Mississippi Beef Processors plant seem timed to help derail Democrat Ronnie Musgrove’s bid to snatch one of the state’s two U.S. Senate seats from Republican hands. Three Georgia businessmen, one by one over the course of four days, entered guilty pleas to federal charges arising out of the Yalobusha County beef plant’s quick and costly demise.
This entire line of thinking reminds me why the lunny left is sometimes also derisively called black helicopter people because there is a conspiracy behind everything they don’t like. The results are both typical and knee jerk.
Not to be left out Nowdy’s old friend Patsy Brumfield chimed in and we find out in print the amount of blood money that caused Jim Greenlee, of Scruggs prosecution fame and former hero of the black helicopter crowd, to go after poor little Ronnie Musgrove in a so called political prosecution: $200 given in 2002.
As this was unfolding the word that came to my mind was “pathetic”. There was no sense in writing about it here on slabbed though and besides Andy Taggert beat everyone to the punch:
Former Dick Molpus political spokesman and current Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal political reporter Patsy Brumfield has now unearthed the news that — drumroll here — Northern District US Attorney Jim Greenlee made a campaign contribution to Roger Wicker when he was running for the House of Representatives. And oh, the contribution was in 2002. And oh, it was for $200.
So, the “political prosecution” conspiracy theory crowd now have their proof that the beef plant prosecutions were all staged to hurt Ronnie Musgrove’s race for the US Senate, right?
Give us all a break, please, Ms. Brumfield.
In order for the world to work as the political prosecution theorists think it does, the political conspiracy must reach from the heavens to the inner reaches of Mississippi’s jury pools. Somehow, there was first a conspiracy to get Paul Minor to bribe some judges down on the Coast, for the judges to accept those bribes, then for twelve citizens to determine unanimously that they were all guilty of having done so. Then, the conspiracy somehow got two other Mississippians, a guy from Tennessee and three guys from Georgia all to commit crimes in connection with the beef plant, to which five of the six pled guilty while the sixth was convicted by, again, twelve ordinary citizens who were somehow shanghaied into the conspiracy.
But the coup de grace to the whole conspiracy is that just when it looked as though the beef plant case might actually finish up in 2007 before anyone even knew there was going to be a Senate race this year, or that Roger Wicker and Ronnie Musgrove would be running, lo and behold, the Republicans in government somehow got four lawyers and a lawyer wanna-be to try to bribe not one but two different state court judges. That way, see, the beef plant investigation could be delayed into 2008, while prosecutors and the FBI ran all the traps on the judicial bribery cases. Then, of course, the conspiracy also required that all five of the judge bribers had to plead guilty to crimes serious enough to send each of them to jail for a long, long time.
Not even Hillary Clinton, in her wildest dreams, imagined a vast, right-wing conspiracy as far-reaching and powerful as some apparently believe is at work in this state. And all to keep Ronnie Musgrove from getting elected to the Senate.
The post evidently stung as Patsy herself commented. It also ended that wacky line of political BS.
Now we fast forward to yesterday and the new controversy involving team Musgrove and the placement of the special election for US Senate near the bottom of the statewide ballot. Jimmy Gates at the Clarion Ledger filed the report:
Less than three hours after state officials voted Tuesday to put the special U.S. Senate race near the bottom of the November general election ballot, a judge blocked the sample ballot’s release to hear arguments that say the location is unlawful.
Pike County Election Commissioner Trudy Berger turned to the court in opposition to the state Election Commission because she said the contest between Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker is the most important state race on the ballot and will be buried.
The state Election Commission voted to place the race in the special election section after the names of candidates for regular election contests.
Berger, who attended the meeting and voiced her opposition to the decision, promptly filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Circuit Court.
Circuit Judge Tomie Green issued a temporary restraining order that prevents Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann from disseminating the ballot before a hearing can be conducted. She set the hearing for 11 a.m. Thursday in her courtroom.
“My client’s responsibilities are to the voters, and the law is clear,” said Sam Begley of Jackson, Berger’s attorney. “Elections for federal office should be at the top of the ballot. The proposed ballot buries the most prominent election in the state and will cause confusion on Election Day.”
Musgrove, a Democrat, and Wicker, a Republican, face off Nov. 4 to serve out the remainder of Trent Lott’s term. After Lott retired last year, Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to the seat until a special election.
Hosemann recommended to Barbour that the Wicker-Musgrove contest be placed at the end of the ballot. Barbour agreed. Barbour and Hosemann are both Republicans and are two of the three election commissioners.
“We believe Mississippi voters are capable to read through the entire ballot. To suggest otherwise disrespects the voter,” Hosemann said before the lawsuit was filed. “The people of the state of Mississippi will determine the results of this election as they have every other election.” He had no further comment after the restraining order was issued.
Barbour said in his 40-year experience involving elections, special elections always appear at the bottom of the ballot.
Immediately Musgrove’s supporters on the far left labeled the decision political. Frankly this entire affair reminds me of the hanging chad BS circa Florida 2000. The sound Mississippians following this story yesterday heard around 3:00 PM was me tuning out the noise but then something magical happened. Guilt by association, a tactic often used by the black helicopter crowd was deftly employed by the political right here in Mississippi. Alan Lange from Yallpolitics was masterful with this comment:
I know it hurts your collective heads something fierce to see Dickie and Ronnie on the same donation sheet to a judge ruling in his favor.
That’s right folks,Judge Tommie Green got campaign ca$h from Musgrove along with Dickie Scruggs. I had a good laugh and the result is this post.
For our Georgeia based readers who are worried about MIssissippi inflicting Ronnie Musgrove on the US Senate and the toes of DC area women I’ll add rest easy. As Sid Salter noted on his blog people here remember Musgrove as Governor:
The latest (8/21) Rasmussen polls show Republican nominee Sen. John McCain leading Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama 56 percent to 43 percent. No big surprise there. Most national polls and most national presidential prognostications show Mississippi as a reliably “red” state and McCain is expected to win here. I expect Obama may better than number here, but remember that in 2004 President Bush took 59.5 percent of the state’s vote to 39.8 percent for Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry.
But a more interesting number in the Ramsussen poll is a comparison of the Obama-McCain numbers in Mississippi to that of the U.S. Senate race between interim Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. That same Rasmussen 8/21 poll shows Wicker leading Musgrove 52 percent to 43 percent.
Musgrove has run three statewide races, winning his race for lieutenant governor against Eddie Briggs in 1995 with 52.7 percent of the vote, getting 49.6 percent of the vote in winning a plurality election as governor against Republican Mike Parker in 1999 and losing to current Gov. Haley Barbour in 2003 in a gubernatorial re-election bid with 45.8 percent of the vote.
In three statewide races, Musgrove has averaged winning 49.3 percent of the vote.
So the question is if Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was supposed to have coattails that helped Musgrove in his Senate campaign, why does the Rasmussen poll show Obama and Musgrove drawing the same 43 percent of the vote while McCain (56 percent) actually shows more support than Wicker (52 percent)? If anything, it appears that this poll shows McCain with more coattail in Mississippi than Obama.
It’s only one poll. But it sure blows a sizeable hole in the notion that Obama’s coattails give Musgrove any better chance at winning this election than he’d have standing alone — for the numbers show Musgrove actually had a higher percentage of support in three prior elections without Obama than he has now.
Once again I’ll note my total mystification on why state democratic power brokers settled on this loser over Ronnie Shows. The only theory I’ve heard that makes sense is given Musgrove’s history of being easily bought, the money naturally flowed to the man the good ol boys could control.
Finally I’ll end this lengthy post with a youtube vid put out by the republicans of Musgrove doing the Paul Gallo show. I’m no fan of Supertalk but the interview excerpts are priceless.