Hood: Opponent a tort reform hypocrite

John O'Brien Oct. 18, 2007, 3:20pm



JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi voters may be wondering which is the better option -- corruption or hypocrisy.

That's because the candidates in the race for Attorney General continue to publicly bash each other, with incumbent Democrat Jim Hood on Wednesday calling Republican challenger a hypocrite when it comes to his spoken beliefs regarding tort reform

"When Hopkins claims credit for his support of tort reform laws in Mississippi, he fails to tell his supporters that just a week before new tort reform laws took effect on Jan. 1, 2003, Hopkins filed approximately 2,000 lawsuits against one of Mississippi's largest businesses, DuPont, enabling him to collect $14 million in damages the following year," a release from Hood's campaign said.

"In fact, some of those lawsuits were filed just the day before the new laws became effective."

In June, DuPont attempted to have those 1,951 suits tossed out. The complaints alleged exposure to harmful chemicals released by one of DuPont's facilities, but attorneys for the company say no actual injuries are alleged.

"The possibility of a future injury is insufficient to maintain a tort claim," the company's attorneys wrote, according to a report in the Sun Herald of Biloxi.

Hopkins, meanwhile, continues attacking Hood for his use of campaign contributors as outside counsel. He even puts a list of all the contributors who have been given state work by Hood on his website.

"Your Attorney General took over $400,000 in campaign contributions from law firms he's given a no-bid contract," Hopkins said in a recent speech. "His largest contributor (Joey Langston) cashed that contract in for $14 million (in a settlement with MCI)...

"In my opinion, that is illegal and wrong."

Hood says Hopkins has earned almost $100,000 in legal fees since 2001 as outside counsel hired by the state, and adds that Hopkins does not have enough experience prosecuting crimes.

"Hopkins has never prosecuted a single felony crime," the release says. "In fact, Hopkins has only handled a few misdemeanor pig and cow cases more than 20 years ago.

"According to records from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Hopkins was employed part-time by the state Board of Animal Health as outside counsel (a practice which he now claims to oppose) from 1982-85 to assist in alleged violations of the state's brucellosis eradication program. Brucellosis is a bacterial disease primarily passed among farm animals."

Hopkins has taken exception to Hood's comments, particularly ones concerning his judicial service on the state's Military Court of Appeals. Hood says the court has not met once or heard a single case in the time Hopkins has been on the bench.

Hopkins worked his way from an infantryman to Major General at the time of his retirement.

"Jim Hood's continued attempt to smear my reputation, and service to our country and state, is nothing more than petty, 'sticks and stones,'" Hopkins said a week ago.

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