There were some high-dollar contributors at a private meeting Speaker Philip Gunn had in his office last night. An unusual amount of activity at the Capitol yesterday evening led a TV news crew and a print reporter to investigate, but the journalists were turned away by Capitol security, wrote Clarion-Ledger political editor Geoff Pender today.
According to Pender's report, Gunn's policy director Nathan Wells called the meeting small and consisting of Gunn supporters who hadn't had a chance to visit the speaker's office.
Attendees included oilmen Billy Powell and Billy Mounger as well as Wirt Yerger and their spouses. All the men are high-rollers when it comes to political donations.
Mounger, who has worked in oil and gas development, gave more than $100,000 in both 2007 and 2011, but a quick review of those disclosure filings reveal that Gunn was not a recipient from Mounger in those two cycles.
Mounger has also given handsomely to federal campaigns, including former Gov. Haley Barbour's political action committee and to Republican members of Mississippi's congressional delegation. Powell of Powell Petroleum has also given while Yerger, president of Cavalier Wireless, gave $3,500 to candidates in 2011, including $1,000 to Gunn.
Wells insisted that the meeting was not a fundraiser. He told Pender: "We have food brought in for meetings all the time. This was completely paid for by (Gunn). There were no contributions, and none asked for. It’s not an event. We eat food here at meetings all the time.”