JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Voters in Mississippi will decide Tuesday if they want another four years of Jim Hood, the state attorney general whose time in office has caused plenty of controversy.
Hood, a Democrat first elected in 2003, is facing Republican Steve Simpson, a former public service commissioner. Simpson has also served as a circuit judge and assistant district attorney.
In recent weeks, the two had little nice to say about the other. It started in late October when Hood alleged Simpsons abused his office as public service commissioner by billing the state more than $400 for a diner meeting in 2009 at a resort.
Two lawmakers and the state's insurance commissioner were listed as Simpson's guests but all three denied eating at one of the resort's restaurants. Simpson's campaign said the three attended a dinner and pointed out that Hood spent $2,500 for a six-day conference held at Disney World.
Republican Gov. Haley Barbour joined in later that week, criticizing a Hood statement that said he had recovered more than $20 million for the state's budget from pharmaceutical lawsuits. Barbour insists that the federal government is entitled to much of that recovery and that private attorneys hired by Hood will end up making more money from the lawsuits than the state will.
Next, Simpson complained that Hood used the AG's office to obtain a video of Simpson helping a friend get out of jail, though Hood's campaign said the video is public record.
During his time in office, Hood has been criticized for his relationships with plaintiffs attorneys, including the now-incarcerated Richard "Dickie" Scruggs. Federal prosecutors even noted the closeness while pursuing a contempt charge against Scruggs, writing that Hood offered Scruggs advice before Scruggs violated a judge's order concerning confidential insurance documents.
Like other plaintiffs attorneys, Scruggs was a heavy donor to Hood's campaign fund. Hood once hired a Houston firm that donated $75,000 to him for a contingency fee lawsuit against Eli Lilly & Co.
Also up for re-election on Tuesday is Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who is seeking his second term. Conway is facing Republican Todd P'Pool.
Conway lost to Rand Paul last year in a race for the U.S. Senate and was legal counsel and deputy cabinet secretary for former Gov. Paul Patton.
P'Pool is the Hopkins County Attorney.
Louisiana was to have a race between incumbent Buddy Caldwell and former U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao, but Cao withdrew on Sept. 20.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.