JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Attorney General’s office on Wednesday released independent reviews by two former state supreme court justices on Jim Hood’s investigation into whether Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves directly or indirectly influenced an attempt to build a $2 million frontage road in Flowood.
Reeves’ campaign responded in a video Thursday, saying Hood abused his office and performed a political stunt that has been a year in the making.
“Just 6 weeks before voting begins, Hood released a factually inaccurate and deceptive report smearing Tate Reeves—a trick so dirty that it would make James Comey and Hillary Clinton proud,” said the campaign.
The campaign also said, “The video features Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads, Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, and Dogwood Homeowners Association President Gary Herring. Each of them has stated publicly for more than a year that they were the driving forces behind the project and that Tate Reeves was not involved. Hood’s report ignored them all because he was not interested in the truth. In fact, Hood made no effort to interview Tate Reeves, Mayor Rhoads, or Senator Josh Harkins, who also owned property in the neighborhood, for his sham investigation.”
You can watch Reeves’ campaign’s full video response here:
The road would have connected Reeves’ home within a private subdivision to a nearby shopping center.
The 10 page opinion on the AG’s website was written by former Supreme Court Justice David Chandler.
Chandler wrote: “A reasonable factfinder could review the evidence in the report and conclude that Lieutenant Governor Reeves wanted the frontage road to be built and additionally applied political pressure to that end. However, I do not believe any evidence in the report establishes that the Lieutenant Governor received or could have potentially received any amount of compensation for the project to an extent that liability arises under Section 109 of the Mississippi Constitution…"
Both Chandler and former Supreme Court Justice Edwin Pittman conclude there could be a conflict of interest under Section 109 of the Mississippi Constitution because Lt. Governor Reeves and his spouse own a membership share in the property owners’ association.
Pittman added: " ...no public officer or member of the Legislature shall be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract with the State, or any district, county, city or town thereof, authorized by any law passed or order made by any board of which he may be or may have been a member, during the term for which he shall have been chosen, or within one year after the expiration of such term.”
“My view is that the report speaks for itself. It should be read by the press and public, which can make their own judgment as to the actions and conduct of Lt. Governor Reeves,” said Hood.
Hood says he will take no further action on the matter. He says Mississippi’s next attorney general could choose to continue the investigation.
In a response to the the report, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statement saying:
“After a year of big talk, Jim Hood admits he proved no wrongdoing and can take no action. This is just a 43 page political dirty trick by Jim Hood. The only new information is we now know the source of this smear is the lobbyist who’s the number one contributor to Tate Reeves’ opponent.”
Attorney Jim Hood and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves are both running for Mississippi Governor.