Up in Tupelo, Daily Journal reporter Bobby Harrison is asking the right questions, as opposed to the ridiculous posturing coming out of The Clarion-Ledger's Sid Salter. He writes today about BlindTrust-Gate:
It is easy to get lost in the many complexities surrounding Gov. Haley Barbour's blind trust. But at the heart of the manner is one simple question:
Does the governor still own an interest in the Washington, D.C., lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, which he formed back in the 1990s and which has made more than $2 million from cigarette makers during his term as governor? That is the simple question that so far the governor has refused to answer.
Harrison says that Barbour told reporters in 2004 that he had "no connections" to his former firm. Did Barbour outright lie to the capital press corps? And here's more from Harrison:
But regardless, the public has the right to know whether as the governor aggressively pursues policies that protect cigarette companies he is part-owner of a company that is making hundreds of thousands each year from those cigarette makers. [...]
At the heart of the problem is that the governor established a blind trust with no provisions in state law to govern it. The Mississippi Ethics Commission has said they do not know whether the governor has any conflicts because they do not have enough information to make a determination.
During the 2007 session, efforts were made to address blind trust in state law. Perhaps, the governor had good reason for disagreeing with the bill as it was written.
But instead of working to craft good legislation that put blind trusts in state law so that there would be some governance of them, Barbour and his legislative allies worked successfully to kill the bill.
Excellent work, Bobby.
Oh, and he ends with this:
The intent of blind trusts is supposed to be to protect the public from possible conflict of interest - not to hide what may be relevant information from the public.
Barbour, his family tree and garden of lobbying followers have too many financial roots that will unsettle this State if he continues to be unchecked.
I just hope that the citizens of this State will realize what is going on and send this Washington Favorite Son back to his group. His heart is not in MS and personally, I wan't his hands out of the State's purse.
One of my biggest fears here is that Barbour just played Mississippians, and the state's press corps, as fools. The thing that infuriates me the THE MOST is when people treat Mississippians like we're all a bunch of ignorant fools who can't understand things. Actually, the ABSOLUTELY MOST infuriating is when it's a Mississippian doing it.
Talk about selling out your people at the most basic level—treating us like we're uneducated racists who don't understand the ethics of fighting legislation that would hurt clients of a lobbying firm that you own and that is named after you. Lord.
And then other Barbourians follow his lead—trying to make it sound like the worse thing we dumb witta Mississippians oughta be concerned about is who ratted on our poor governor who, seemingly, has been lying to us for the last four years.
We're not that stupid, boyz.