Lobbying, Gifts to Officials: Where do Mississippi Governor Candidates Stand?

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Adjunct professor Mark Davies was quoted by the Clarion Ledger for an article that polled six leading gubernatorial candidates in Mississippi on if they would support a law restricting lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and other public officials.

Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood said he, too, would support an outright ban. He also advocated for banning corporate campaign contributions, and all campaign contributions during the legislative session, so as not to influence legislation.

“We’ve got to cut the money out of politics, and then we’ll see some results for the people,” Hood said.

Two other Democrats, Velesha P. Williams and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, said they would get behind a gift ban. Williams said she worries about “the influence that those gifts generate,” and the possibility of “buying and selling positions as we govern.”

Smith said: “Some of those large incentives (from) lobbyists, it only creates an opportunity for special interest groups, but not the people.”

Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Republican former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. both said they would be open to restrictions on gift giving, though appeared less sure an outright ban was the best call.

Tom Hood, executive director of the Mississippi Ethics Commission, previously told the Clarion Ledger the state’s lack of gift restrictions is a “good example of a shortcoming in our laws.” Mark Davies, a Fordham University law professor and ethics expert, explained such laws are important to protect against graft, or the appearance of it.

“The public perception of an official receiving a gift is horrible and undermines both the reality and the perception of integrity in government,” he said earlier this year.

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