Tempest in teapot
Jim Hood’s investigation into Tate Reeves’ alleged arm-twisting to try to get the taxpayers to fund an access road into his gated community might be fodder for some commercials.
As a campaign bombshell, however, in the governor’s race between the two, it largely fizzled.
The 43-page report, released this past week, was unable to conclusively find that Reeves did anything more than what most elected officials do when it comes to advocating for their constituents. He and others in the lieutenant governor’s office, the report alleged, tried to get the project pushed through, although Reeves claims that all of his advocacy was about the larger project of widening Lakeland Drive, not his neighborhood’s adjacent frontage road.
If there is anything factually damning in the report it’s that a year ago, when this controversy first came to light through the reporting of the Clarion Ledger, Reeves claimed that he couldn’t find any written communications between his staff and the Mississippi Department of Transportation about the proposed $2 million access road into the gated subdivision in Rankin County where he lives. Reeves was either lying or he and his folks didn’t look very hard, because Hood was able to turn up 15 emails between the lieutenant governor’s staff and MDOT regarding the access road.
Hood said he’s done with the investigation and will leave it to his successor as attorney general to decide whether to pick up on it. Likely it’s headed for File 13.
That’s as it should be.
If there was any wrongdoing on Reeves’ part, any probe by Hood into it was tainted by Hood’s obvious ulterior motive. The same thing of which Hood was accusing Reeves — abuse of power for personal gain — the attorney general was committing by using his public office to pursue a case that might benefit Hood politically.
It’s time to move on and let the two have it out about the issues. Let them talk, for instance, about what the state should do about fixing its thousands of miles of deteriorating roads. In the bigger picture, that’s more important than the couple of miles of new pavement for which Reeves may or may not have been pushing.