Mississippi candidates swap accusations of favors for donors

Attorney General Jim Hood (left) and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (AP Photos/ Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. — The major-party nominees for Mississippi governor on Wednesday accused each other of doing political favors for campaign donors.

Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood said Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves helped enact laws that expand companies’ ability to offer high-interest loans, and Reeves received campaign contributions from people who work for payday lenders.

“This is just an example of how the loan sharks and the money changers have taken over the temple of government, and it needs to be addressed,” Hood said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “You know, for those Trump supporters out there, there’s nothing conservative about this.”

Reeves is endorsed in the race by Republican President Donald Trump.

For months, Reeves has said that Hood hired private attorneys to represent the state in lawsuits and then received campaign contributions from them.

“Jim Hood is desperately spinning a web of lies because he was caught red-handed funneling taxpayer money to his campaign donors,” Reeves said Wednesday on Twitter, citing 2008 reports by the Wall Street Journal.

Hood said Wednesday that he hired private attorneys on a first-come, first-serve basis. The state has sued pharmaceutical companies, telecommunications and others.

“Those lawyers didn’t get a dime unless we brought in money. So, I brought in about $3 billion,” Hood said. “And as fast as I could bring it in, Tate Reeves is giving it away in tax giveaways to his corporate cronies.”

During a debate Monday in Columbus, Reeves defended tax cuts.

“Letting you keep more of your money in your pocket so you can spend it on whatever you choose to do it, that’s not a giveaway,” Reeves said.

Hood and Reeves are becoming more combative in the final weeks before the Nov. 5 general election. Two other candidates — independent David Singletary and the Constitution Party’s Bob Hickingbottom — are running low-budget campaigns for governor.

Mississippi’s current governor, Republican Phil Bryant, is banned by state law from seeking a third term.

Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky are the only states electing governors this year.

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