Barbour: What's In a Name?

This week, with the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching, it's worth noting that the storm is still trying to knock down one more person as it blows its way into the history books—Haley Barbour.

In an article written by the Bloomberg news service and then run as a front-page story by The Clarion-Ledger this past Sunday, Barbour's family and business connections were laid bare for readers to absorb, including instances where some appear to have profited from sub-standard work done on the Coast.

The story raises questions about the money that two of Barbour's nephews have made in the wake of the tragedy as the principals of Capitol Resources, LLC, a firm they joined as lobbyists soon after Barbour took office.

It likewise touches on the troubles that his niece by marriage, Rosemary Barbour, has had in an FBI investigation into possible fraud related to her company, Alcatec LLC, which received nearly $27 million in U.S. government contracts to maintain FEMA trailers.

Perhaps most disconcerting, however, are the fees that Barbour's lobbying firm—Barbour Griffith & Rogers LLC—has generated in Mississippi. The firm represented the Hard Rock Casino in its attempts to "expedite" a liquor permit; it made money from a company that was started up after Katrina to produce "transportation grade" rock from a quarry, but little has come of it.

The thread throughout all of these items? Contracts and fees where your last name comes in handy. The most troubling thing about Barbour since before he won this office was his career as a D.C. lobbyist. That's a person who greases the wheels to get politicians to do what big corporations want them to do.

Looking back four years, it's clear that the lobbyist past still haunts him.

The first hint might be that his lobbying firm still has the name "Barbour" on its letterhead. Now we learn that Barbour is dodging disclosure of the sources of his personal revenue, which has been placed in a "blind trust." Clearly, he knows where he makes his money, and he'd prefer to clam up and see if he can win re-election anyway. We are very concerned that the governor of Mississippi makes decisions with more at heart than simply the needs of the people of the state of Mississippi. His stance against the cigarette/grocery tax swap, his Johnny-come-lately attitude on fully funding education and his hands-off approach to Big Insurance suggest that he may still feel a great deal of fondness for his firm's clients—and perhaps an affinity for those of his nephew's firms, as well.

We call on Barbour to make it clear that his future livelihood isn't tied to the success of his firm's clients. Better yet, he should disengage from the firm completely, focusing 100 percent on governance in the Magnolia State.


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