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Jim Hood

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Jim Hood
Jim Hood.jpg
Attorney General of Mississippi
Incumbent
In office
2004 - Present
Term ends
2011
Years in position 10
PartyDemocratic
PredecessorMike Moore (D)
Compensation
Base salary$108,960
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 8, 2011
First elected2003
Next generalNovember 2015
Campaign $$5,378,905
Term limitsNone
Education
J.D.University of Mississippi (1988)
Personal
Place of birthNew Houlka, Mississippi
ProfessionAttorney
Websites
Office website
Jim Hood (born in New Houlka, Mississippi) is the current Democratic Attorney General of Mississippi. He was first elected in 2003, and first took office in January of 2004. He is currently serving in his third consecutive term, having most recently won re-election in 2011.[1]

Hood had been considered a potential candidate for governor in 2011, but he ultimately opted for another try as attorney general in 2011.[2] He claimed the Democratic nomination unopposed on August 2, 2011 and defeated former state public safety commissioner, Steve Simpson, in the November general election.2011.

Prior to becoming attorney general, Hood served as the Third Judicial District Attorney in North Mississippi. In that job, he tried more than 100 jury cases and therefore was able to bring a substantial amount of trial experience to the Attorney General's office. One of his better-known trial victories came in 2005 when he successfully prosecuted Edgar Ray Killen for the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers.[1]

Since first assuming office as Mississippi's chief law enforcement official in 2004, Hood has carved out a niche for himself as an advocate for the rights of crime victims and worked to develop initiatives that are specifically targeted at "Mississippi's most vulnerable citizens" -- children and the elderly. He and his staff founded the Cyber Crime Unit and Fusion Center, housed within the Public Integrity Divisions of the office of the Secretary of State. The unit serves as a hub which state, federal, and local agencies can utilize in order to investigate and prosecute internet predators who target children and vulnerable adults. They also created two other units within the division of public integrity - a vulnerable adults unit, and a domestic violence unit - and a separate Crime Prevention and Victims Services division.[1]

Hood's current term expires in January of 2016. He is eligible for re-election in 2015 although he has yet to announce whether he will run for re-election to his current post or perhaps pursue a bid for higher office, as was anticipated prior to the 2011 electoral cycle.

Biography

A fifth generation Mississippian born in New Houlka, Mississippi, Hood is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He attended law school at the University of Mississippi and has worked in the public sector ever since.

After earning his J.D. in December of 1988, Hood clerked for Mississippi State Supreme Court Justice Armis Hawkins. He then spent eight years as a District Attorney for the Third Circuit Court District in North Mississippi. Most recently, Hood served for five years under former Attorney General Mike Moore as a special assistant attorney general in the Drug Asset Forfeiture Unit.[3]

Education

  • Chickasaw County Public Schools
  • J.D. - The University of Mississippi (1988)

Political Career

Mississippi Attorney General (2003-present)

Hood was first elected in 2003. He won re-election in 2007 and again in 2011.

Healthcare reform

See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

The day after the United States House of Representatives narrowly passed the Senate reconciliation bill on health care reform, Republican Governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour called upon the state's attorney general to "challenge the federal government over the constitutionality of requiring individuals to purchase health insurance." He threatened that if Hood refused to do so then he would act on the state's behalf in his stead.[4]

Despite Barbour setting noon on Thursday, March 25, 2010, as the deadline for Hood to decide whether or not to pursue litigation against the federal government on the issue of health care reform, the Mississippi Attorney General's office stated that it needed more time to review the legislation before reaching a decision. Furthermore, Hood argued, the governor "is not authorized to file suit while the attorney general's office completes its review."[5][6]

While promising not to interfere with the governor's suit, Hood did, however, argue that he believed it would be "cheaper for Mississippi to join the lawsuit once it gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, if some viable cause of action arises during the years of litigation."[7]

Controversies

Mississippi Sunshine Act

On May 22, 2012, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a bill, effective July 1, 2012, which restricted the power of the attorney general.[8] Dubbed the Mississippi Sunshine Act, House Bill 211 addressed the need, according to the law's supporters, to "rein in the troublesome practice of awarding contingency fee contracts to plaintiffs' lawyers who are also major campaign contributors to the state attorney general."[9] The issue stemmed from the office's ability to personally select private lawyers whose contracts and fees are arranged at the attorney general's discretion. The Sunshine Law requires the attorney general to appoint outside counsel to represent a state agency or elected official in the event that the attorney general either refuses, or is in conflict with the agency or official. Once it takes effect, an attorney general will no longer be able to unilaterally bring suits on behalf of a state agency or elected official. Instead, an agency or elected official will have seven working days to object and seek out alternate counsel. That outside counsel would then be subject to approval by a commission comprised of the governor, lieutenant governor, and secretary of state. If an objection is made, the attorney general would have to withdraw from representing the agency.

It also requires outside counsel to keep detailed time and expense records and caps the total fee paid to contingency lawyers at $50 million.[10]

Hood, according to the Associated Press, claimed the law is unconstitutional and threatened to sue over limits to his power.[10] He also took issue with the partisan composition of the commission, to which he - as the lone Democratic statewide elected official - will have to submit under certain conditions in the future.[10]

ACORN
See also: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

The June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by liberal political organization, ACORN, gave Hood an A letter grade. The report was published to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure," according to the group.[11] The grade distributed to the individual attorneys general "generally broke down along party lines," with the exception of Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell.[12]

Pay-to-sue

American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), a non-profit political action committee formed in 1986 for the express purpose of advocating in favor of tort reform, has, for a number of years, published a report called Judicial Hellholes that identifies "areas of the country where the scales of justice are radically out of balance" and provides "solutions for restoring balance, accuracy, and predictability to the American civil justice system."[13] While the report has primarily focused on state judicial figures such as judges, a subsection entitled Dangerous Liaisons: Some State Attorneys General Offer Contingency Fee Contracts to Politically Supportive Outside Counsel shifts attention to state attorneys general who have also contributed "to growing concerns in the business community about the ability of defendants to receive fair trials."

One of the individuals highlighted in the 2008/2009 edition of the annual report was Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. It was his ethically questionable practice of "pay-to-play" or "pay-to-sue," whereby "lawyers who contribute to the campaigns of the state’s highest ranking attorney can then get a contract for a piece of the action and, in some cases, develop the action themselves and get a go-ahead to pursue it in the state’s name," that drew the ire of the ATRA. Within a period of five years, Hood's office hired twenty-seven law firms to represent the state of Mississippi in twenty separate lawsuits. The private legal practices selected by Hood himself contributed nearly $535,000 in his two campaigns for the state's AG office. The list of these individuals includes Richard Scraggs (contributed $30,000) who "has since been disbarred and is serving a federal prison sentence for an unrelated conspiracy to bribe a Mississippi judge" and plantiff counsel Joey Langston (contributed $130,000), who, prior to pleading guilty to bribing a judge, received $14 million in legal fees from the $100 million settlement with MCI/WorldCom in 2005.[14]

Elections

2011

See also: Mississippi attorney general election, 2011

On March 21, 2010, Hood announced his intention to run again in 2011, quieting rumors that he might run for governor.[2] He claimed the Democratic nomination unopposed on August 2, 2011 and defeated former state public safety commissioner, Steve Simpson, in November.

Attorney General of Mississippi, 2011
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJim Hood Incumbent 61.1% 536,827
     Republican Steve Simpson 38.9% 342,086
Total Votes 878,913


2011
State Executive elections

KentuckyLouisiana
MississippiWest Virginia

GubernatorialLt. Governor
Attorney GeneralSecretary of State
Down ballot offices: (KY, LA, MS)

NewsCalendar

2007

Jim Hood ran unopposed in the 2007 Democratic primary election
2007 Race for Attorney General - General Election
2007 Race for Attorney General - General Election[15]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Jim Hood 59.8%
     Republican Party Al Hopkins 40.2%
Total Votes 735,533

2003

Jim Hood ran unopposed in 2003 Democratic primary election
2003 Race for Attorney General - General Election
2003 Race for Attorney General - General Election[16]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Jim Hood 62.7%
     Republican Party Scott Newton 37.3%
Total Votes 873,988

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Hood is available dating back to 2003. Based on available campaign finance records, Hood raised a total of $5,378,905 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 8, 2013.[17]

Jim Hood's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2011 Attorney General of Mississippi Won $1,786,598
2009 Attorney General of Mississippi Not up for election $220,684
2007 Attorney General of Mississippi Won $1,804,877
2005 Attorney General of Mississippi Not up for election $113,104
2003 Attorney General of Mississippi Won $1,453,642
Grand Total Raised $5,378,905

2003-2011

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Jim Hood's donors each year.[18] Click [show] for more information.


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Personal

Hood currently resides in Mississippi with his wife, Debbie, and their three children - Rebecca, Matthew, and Annabelle.

Contact Information

Mailing address:
MS Attorney General's Office
Post Office Box 220
Jackson, MS 39205

Mississippi

Street address:
MS Attorney General's Office
Walter Sillers Building
550 High Street, Suite 1200
Jackson, MS 39201

Phone: 601-359-3680
E-mail: msag05@ago.state.ms.us

See also

External links

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mississippi Attorney General, "About your attorney general," May 11, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mississippi Business Journal', "Hood going for another term," March 21, 2010
  3. National Association of Attorneys General, "Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood," May 11, 2011
  4. The Clarion Ledger, "Bill draws praise, fire" 23 March, 2010
  5. The Dispatch, "AG wants more time to study health care law before filing suit" 25 March, 2010
  6. The Commercial Appeal, "State AG still considering federal health care lawsuit" 28 March, 2010
  7. The Mississippi Link, "Attorney general won't stop health care lawsuit" 12 April, 2010
  8. Forbes, "Mississippi Reins In Use Of Contigency-Fee Lawyers," May 21, 2012
  9. The Wall Street Journal- Market Watch, "U.S. Chamber Applauds Signing of Landmark Mississippi Outside Counsel Sunshine Law," May 22, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Bryant signs law limiting attorney general's power," May 21, 2012
  11. ACORN "Attorneys General Take Action: Real Leadership in Fighting Foreclosures" June 2008
  12. Majority in Mississippi, "Jim Hood Received An “A” From ACORN In 2008" 17 Sept. 2009
  13. ATR Foundation - Judicial Hellholes 2009/2010
  14. Respond Mississippi, "Mississippi's Dangerous Liason: Jim Hood" 12 Jan. 2009
  15. Mississippi Secretary of State, "Certification of vote for state office of attorney general (page 11), Dec 13, 2007
  16. Mississippi Secretary of State, "Certification of votes for state officers (page 8), Dec 2003
  17. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Jim Hood," accessed July 17, 2013
  18. Follow the Money.org


Political offices
Preceded by
Mike Moore (D)
Mississippi Attorney General
2004-present
Succeeded by
NA