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Ashton Pittman

Stories by Ashton

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Medicaid, Education at Center of Waller v. Reeves Runoff

Bill Waller Jr. supports what he calls "Medicaid reform," which would bring affordable health-care options to about 300,000 working Mississippians whose households make too much for traditional Medicaid, but not enough for subsidized private insurance.

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As ICE Raided, Children Cried and Educators Scrambled

At Scott Central High School about 20 minutes from Sebastopol, 
Superintendent McGee started getting calls from the public schools in Morton that ICE had raided the Koch Foods plant there. "Hey, what do we do? Somebody came to pick a child up, but they're not on the sign-out list," McGee recalled a school official saying.

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Beto O'Rourke: Trump Used ICE to 'Terrorize' Mississippi Hispanics

"(Donald Trump) is terrifying this community. People who have done nothing to anybody else posed no threat to America. So there's no other reason to raid this community than to terrify this community. And that's exactly what he's done," Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said in Canton this morning.

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The Night Immigration Agents Took Two Madison Children's Father

Around 2 a.m., Joshua Quinn's phone rang, waking him. "They took him! They took him! They took him!" cried the voice of an 11-year-old boy Quinn was helping mentor at The BARS Institute, which he started to help young boys of color in Mississippi's capital city.

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‘Shared Belief’: McDaniel Endorses Reeves to Block Medicaid Expansion

Shared opposition to Medicaid expansion in the state spurred Mississippi Sen. Chris McDaniel on Thursday to endorse Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, whose legislative tactics he has long criticized, for the Republican Party runoff for governor.

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False Claims in Tate Reeves' 'Obamacare' Mailers on Waller Plan

A mailer from Tate Reeves' campaign made several misleading claims about Republican runoff opponent Bill Waller's Medicaid expansion plan.

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Waller Says Yes to Equal Pay, No on LGBT Hate Crimes Law

In a series of campaign stops for the Republican runoff for governor on Tuesday, former Mississippi Chief Justice Bill Waller reiterated his views on health care and education, while also sharing his thoughts on equal pay for women and LGBT hate crimes.

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Foster Endorses Waller in Gov Runoff, Cites Medicaid, Teacher Pay

Former Republican candidate for governor Robert Foster announced his support for Bill Waller Jr., citing Medicaid and teacher pay, in the party’s primary runoff at a Tuesday morning press conference in DeSoto County.

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GOP Insider: Foster to Endorse Ex-Opponent Waller in Runoff for Primary Nod for Gov

Mississippi House Rep. Robert Foster plans to endorse former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller in the Republican runoff for governor, a GOP insider told the Jackson Free Press on Sunday evening.

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Koch Foods, PECO Funded 'Chicken' PAC, Gave Thousands to Hyde-Smith, Pols

Business executives who federal filings say "willfully and unlawfully" employed undocumented immigrants have donated thousands to high-level politicians in and outside of Mississippi, including through a special "Chicken" political action committee.

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Immigrant Families Jobless in Mississippi After 'Inhumane' ICE Raids

Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance organizer Luis Espinoza told the Jackson Free Press on Thursday that he had spent the past two days working with families after ICE agents raided six worksites across the state on Wednesday.

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After ICE Raids, Some Kids Reunited with Parents or Relatives in Mississippi

Scott County Youth Court Prosecutor Constance Slaughter-Harvey watched Thursday morning as a few children reunited with and embraced parents whom, just a day before, they had been separated from after U.S. federal ICE agents arrested them.

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Advocates: In Mississippi, ICE Agents Arrest, Tase Migrants, Documented or Not

Children finished their first day of school with no parents to go home to tonight. Babies and toddlers remained at daycare with no guardian to pick them up. A child vainly searched a workplace parking lot for missing parents. Those are some of the many stories immigrants' rights advocates told the Jackson Free Press they heard on Wednesday

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In Gov Race, Dem Hood Vows to 'Expose Corruption,' Reeves in Runoff with Waller

With a hug from former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood stepped up to a microphone and proclaimed victory in his quest for the Democratic nomination for governor last night.

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Refugees Locked Up In Mississippi: ‘Where Are the Family Values?’

Under the Trump administration, CoreCivic has a new mission at the Adams County Correctional Center: to house asylum seekers who are in the custody of the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement agency, also known as ICE.

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Espy Calls for Gun Reforms, Targets 'Rise of Violent White Nationalism'

The Democrat who lost to U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi's 2018 U.S. Senate special election, Mike Espy, broke his post-campaign silence to call for action on gun reform and against "violent white nationalism" in an email to supporters on Monday.

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Wealthy Doctors' PAC, 'I.V. League' Help Tate Reeves Lead in Campaign Donations

The Mississippi Medical Political Action Committee donated $20,000 to Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who is the only candidate in the governor's race who does not support some form of Medicaid expansion.

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Michael Watson Wants to Flag Citizen Status When Voters Register

If elected, Mississippi Sen. Michael Watson wants to use the secretary of state's office to run background checks on people when they register to vote—and flag people who may not be in the country legally.

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GOP Gov Hopefuls: Expand Medicaid to Help ‘Working’ People; Reeves Abstains

A mostly white and conservative crowd at the Neshoba County Fair roared approval on Thursday as Republican candidates for governor pledged to bring the final piece of former President Barack Obama’s health-care law to Mississippi: Medicaid expansion.

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In Neshoba, Lieutenant Gov Candidates Duel, Detail (Some) Issue Stances

In Mississippi, lieutenant governors are powerful, with executive and legislative roles. They serve as the president of the Senate, which gives them significant leverage in choosing the committee chairs who decide which legislation to prioritize—or kill.

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Prison System 'Like Chattel Slavery': Activists Rally for Mississippi Reform

Behind the granite back of a high-perched Confederate soldier and a Mississippi state flag, a multi-racial crowd sang freedom songs as mothers held signs, pleading for help for their incarcerated sons.

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Till Marker Pic Shows 'Little Progress' in State, Lawmaker Says

When a trio of male students from the University of Mississippi posed with rifles next to a bullet-ridden Emmett Till memorial marker, they were representing an unfortunate truth about racism in the state, Mississippi Rep. Jeramey Anderson, D-Moss Point, believes.

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Hood Calls Tech, Women's Opportunities 'The Hope for Our Future'

Right now, though, just over 30% of the state does not have access to high-speed broadband service at all and remains limited to relying on slower options, like dial-up, to connect to the internet. It's worse in rural areas and small towns.

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GOP AG’s Race: A ‘Crusade’ Against Drugs

Mississippi Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, is running on a “tough on crime” approach to drugs. Andy Taggart has a more balanced platform.

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Vying for Mississippi Governor: The Issues Post-GOP Debate and Beyond

Find out where top candidates in the race for governor stand on issues like Medicaid expansion, private school vouchers, teacher pay, mental health, abortion rights, and more.

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JPS Unveils 'Transformational' Plan for Public Schools

Jackson Public Schools now has a plan to "transform" education in Mississippi's capital city. City leaders say it will help ensure that all children in the district get a high-quality education. It would also expand access to pre-K programs for 4-year-olds.

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Hood: Governors Can’t Do Their Job and Follow the ‘Billy Graham Rule’

Republican candidates who say they cannot be alone with women who are not their wives are “ridiculous,” Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in a fundraising email sent to supporters on Thursday.

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Black Woman Accuses Dem Leader of Ignoring Her Governor Run

Velesha P. Williams, an African American woman from Jackson who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor of Mississippi, says party Chairman Bobby Moak will not "respect or acknowledge" her candidacy.

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Reeves' 'Ready to Work' Plan Caps Tuition for Some, Adds K-12 Coding

In front of a crowd of enthusiastic college educators, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves announced his plan to make Mississippi a "Ready to Work" state.

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'Horrified' Activists Rally Against Natchez Migrant Facility

Immigrants rights activists protested against the Trump administration's decision to open immigrant detention facilities in Mississippi outside the U.S. District Court court building in Jackson on July 12, 2019.

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Opinion: Men, Punishing Women and Reporters for #MeToo is Not the Answer

Rep. Robert Foster says he denied a woman reporter equal access to his campaign because he does not want people to think he's having an affair. Many of his supporters, though, think it's about striking back at #MeToo.

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Lumumba Endorses Jody Owens for Hinds District Attorney

Jody Owens has "demonstrated a commitment" to making Jackson better, Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba said during a live WMPR 90.1 radio broadcast of Coffee and Conversations with Wanda Evers on Wednesday, endorsing him in the race for Hinds County district attorney.

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What Mississippi Voters Want

We asked Mississippi voters which issues they want candidates to talk about. From potholes, to poverty, to higher teacher pay and help with college, here’s what they told us.

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Will a Court Force Mississippi to Change on Mental Health?

In a 2017 report, ProPublica identified more than 100 cases in which Mississippians with mental illnesses were spending long periods in jail waiting for a bed or evaluation from the state hospital.

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Prison Breakouts a Result of 'Mass Incarceration,' Mississippi Orgs Say

Three prison inmates may not have escaped last week if not for Mississippi's "mass incarceration problem," a group of civil-rights organizations said in a press statement on Friday.

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Jackson Attorney to Represent Flowers in Possible Seventh Trial

A Jackson-area civil rights attorney is vowing to represent an African American man after a prosecutor accused of racial bias said he plans to try him a seventh time for the same murder case.

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ACLU Leader Steps Down to Focus on Attorney General Race

Jennifer Riley Collins, the Democratic candidate in Mississippi's race for attorney general, is now a full-time campaigner after she stepped down from her role as head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

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Joe Biden's Praise for Segregationists Spans Decades

As a liberal Democratic senator before segregationists switched to the GOP, Joe Biden's friendships extended to not only conservatives, but notorious racist Dixiecrats like former Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

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‘The Lady’ Who Hit Mississippi’s Glass Ceiling

For all of her success, Evelyn Gandy could not break Mississippi's highest glass ceiling; twice, she lost bids for governor against less-qualified men.

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Hood to Appeal Fetal 'Heartbeat' Law Ruling, Citing 'Duty'

On Friday, State Attorney General Jim Hood will appeal U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves ruling that struck down Mississippi's recently passed fetal "heartbeat" law to a higher court, Hood announced late Thursday afternoon.

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Supreme Court Strikes Curtis Flowers Murder Conviction, Citing Race

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the murder conviction of Curtis Flowers, an African American man whom prosecutors have tried six times for the same 1996 slayings of four people at a furniture store in Winona, Miss.

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Reeves' Kemper Bill Let Mississippi Power Shift $1 Billion to Customers

Mississippi Power's gambit to build a first-of-its kind "clean coal" plant in one of the poorest counties in Mississippi failed, but not before state ratepayers helped finance its construction to the tune of billions with the permission of state leaders, including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.

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Death Rates Rise for Mississippi Children and Teens

Mortality rates for Mississippi's teens and children have risen in the past nine years, a report that the Annie E. Casey Foundation published on Monday found.

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Women's Group Honors Evelyn Gandy: 'A Giant in Mississippi Politics'

Jennifer Ingram Johnson was the featured speaker at a League of Women Voters luncheon meant to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

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The Fight for Family Goes On

After the Obergefell decision, Mississippi’s leaders "made sure to let us know we are still beneath the religious elite," Rev. Brandiilyne Mangum-Dear said. "We may have acquired marriage that day (in 2015), but we certainly didn't get equality."

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Black Voting Strength at Stake in Republican Request to 5th Circuit

Mississippi Republican leaders are fighting a court ruling that would increase black voting power in a gerrymandered state Senate district that meanders about 100 miles from Cleveland in the Mississippi Delta down into Madison County just north of Jackson.

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Gipson: Officers Were 'Only Trying to Help' When They Shot His Father

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson said he does not blame the officers involved in the shooting death of his father, Harry Gipson.

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AG Candidates Praise 'Heartbeat Bill,' Anti-LGBT Laws, Tort Reform

About 50 people showed up at a venue that would seat 1,200 on Wednesday night to hear Republican candidates explain why voters should elect them as Mississippi's next attorney general—the state's chief legal officer who holds the power to bring or defend against lawsuits on behalf of the state.

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Mississippi Mental Health Lawsuit Poses Concerns for Civil Rights

As a mental-health lawsuit claiming a violation of the civil rights of mentally ill Mississippians moves forward, Joy Hogge has in mind "a young person" who never received the support they needed.

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Taggart 'Disappointed' That Fitch Plans to Skip AG Debates

Republican candidate for Mississippi attorney general Andy Taggart criticized one of his opponents, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, in an open letter on Monday because she does not plan to attend two debates later this week.

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