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Haley Barbour

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Haley Barbour
Barbour.jpg
Governor of Mississippi
Former officeholder
In office
January 2004 - January 9, 2012
PartyRepublican
Education
J.D.University of Mississippi Law School (1972)
Personal
BirthdayOctober 22, 1947
Place of birthYazoo City, Mississippi
ProfessionAttorney
Websites
Office website
Haley Barbour (b. October 22, 1947) is a former Republican Governor of Mississippi. He was first elected in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007. Under Mississippi's term limit laws, Barbour was ineligible to run for a third consecutive term, and was succeeded in office by Phil Bryant.

Biography

Barbour, the youngest of three sons, was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where he was raised, to Grace LeFlore Johnson and Jeptha Fowlkes Barbour, Jr. His father, a lawyer, died when Barbour was two years old. He attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford but skipped the first semester of his senior year to work on Richard Nixon's 1968 election campaign. He never earned a bachelor's degree. At the age of twenty-two, he ran the 1970 census for the state of Mississippi. He enrolled at the University of Mississippi Law School, receiving a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1972. Subsequently he joined his father's law firm in Yazoo City.

In 1991, Barbour helped found Barbour, Griffith & Rogers a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, with Lanny Griffith and Ed Rogers, two lawyers who formerly worked in the George H. W. Bush administration. In 1998, Fortune magazine named Barbour Griffith & Rogers the second-most-powerful lobbying firm in America. In 2001, after the inauguration of George W. Bush, Fortune named it the most powerful. The firm has made millions of dollars lobbying on behalf of the tobacco industry.

Political career

Governor of Mississippi (January 2004 - January 2012)

Barbour defeated incumbent Democrat Ronnie Musgrove in the general election on November 4, 2003, with 53 percent of the vote to Musgrove's 46 percent. Barbour became just the second Republican governor elected in Mississippi since Reconstruction, the first being Kirk Fordice. He took office in January 2004. He announced the beginning of his re-election campaign at a series of meetings across the state on February 12, 2007.

During his campaign, Barbour signed the Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" and vowed not to institute any new taxes or raise any existing ones.

Barbour vs. The Partnership

Barbour's taxation policies have not been without contention. In March 2006 Barbour vetoed a bill that would lower grocery taxes, while simultaneously raising tobacco taxes. Mississippians pay some of the highest grocery taxes in the nation. The "Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids" insinuated that Barbour's lobbying-era affinity with the tobacco industry may also explain his 2006 proposal to dismantle Mississippi's controversial youth-tobacco-prevention program, called The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. The Partnership is a private, non-profit group which receives $20 million annually and is led by former Attorney General Mike Moore. Moore created the organization when he, representing the State of Mississippi, settled a multi-billion dollar suit with the tobacco industry. According to the suit, the funds were to offset the extra costs incurred by Medicaid while dealing with smoking related illnesses. Opponents have consistently claimed that Moore uses the organization to further his political ambitions. The Partnership regularly offers up huge grants to political organizations such as the Legislative Black Caucus. Many point to even more facts such as The Partnership not allowing a public audit which in turn permits the group to have no public accountability of its expenditures of state funds. In 2006, Judge Jaye Bradley, the same judge that awarded Moore the annual $20 million in 2000, vacated her previous decision. Bradley claimed she did not decide against The Partnership because of its inability to perform but because she believes that the state legislature is the only body that can legally decide how state funds can be delegated. Following the decision, Barbour stated that it says a lot about Judge Bradley “…that she is a strong enough person to have the gumption to vacate her own order. The only way for the state to spend state funding is for the Legislature to appropriate it through the legislative process."

After an appeal by Moore, Barbour went on to win a Mississippi Supreme Court battle that prevented the tobacco settlement moneys from funding the program, maintaining that is unconstitutional for a judge to award state proceeds to a private organization. Barbour's lawyer stated The Partnership was "the most blatant diversion of public funds to a private corporation in the history of the state of Mississippi" as The Partnership refuses to allow a state audit of its expenditures of the state's money.

In 2007, a bill to increase the cigarette tax and decrease the grocery tax passed the state House of Representatives, but was again considered doomed by Barbour's opposition. Barbour stated that the lack of revenue generated after the tax swap would quite possibly result in bankrupting the state government which was already fragile due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The House of Representatives could produce no figures to dispute this fact. Also, in his successful 2004 campaign, Barbour ran on the platform that he would veto any tax increase.

Hurricane Katrina response

On Monday August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into Mississippi's coast, killing 231 people, devastating the state's $2.7 billion-a-year casino] industry and leaving tens of thousands of its residents temporarily homeless. Barbour's response was characterized by a concerted effort at evacuation, tough-minded talk on looters and an unwillingness to blame the federal government. His response was compared, favorably, to that of Rudy Giuliani in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Barbour credited the countless government workers who helped southern Mississippi cope with the hurricane. But Barbour was praised by the coast's citizens as a strong leader who can communicate calm to the public and provide “a central decision-making point for when things get balled up or go sideways, which they do,” as Barbour says.

Barbour was blunt with the facts about the utter devastation of the coast, but his own demeanor in public appearances suggested that the state would summon the will to rebuild. Mississippi also reopened all of its public schools by November 2005.

While the reconstruction process doesn’t dictate how localities should rebuild, Barbour has touted New Urbanist principles in constructing more compact communities. “They have the chance to build some things very differently,” he says. “The goal is to build the coast back like it can be, rather than simply like it was.”

The evacuation order was issued by local officials more than 24 hours before the hurricane hit, and Mississippi activated 750 National Guard troops as of August 29, the day of the hurricane.

Infant mortality

In 2005, Mississippi had the highest infant mortality in the nation, and some public health workers blame Barbour's budget cuts. Barbour promised to cut Medicaid, and his administration required face-to-face meetings and stricter documentation for annual re-enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP. The face-to-face meetings were to prevent fraudulent claimants from costing Mississippi taxpayers millions of dollars annually. Non-elderly enrollees dropped by 54,000 from 2005 to 2006. Mississippi Medicaid director Robert L. Robinson said that correlation between the decline in Medicaid enrollment and infant mortality was "pure conjecture." In Mississippi, infant mortality jumped from 9.7/1,000 in 2004 to 11.4/1,000 in 2005, compared to the national average of 6.9/1,000 in 2005. The New York Times compared Hollandale County with Sharkey County, where the infant mortality for blacks was 5/1,000 from 1991-2005. In Sharkey County, The Cary Christian Center runs an intensive home-visiting system using local mothers as counselors, and buses pregnant blacks to pre- and post-natal classes.

2007 re-election

Barbour announced on February 8, 2007 that he would seek a second term as Governor of Mississippi. He announced the beginning of his re-election campaign at a series of meetings across the state on February 12, 2007. During his campaign, Barbour signed the Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" and vowed not to institute any new taxes or raise any existing ones.[1]

He defeated Frederick Jones in the Republican primary on August 7 and Democrat John Arthur Eaves, Jr. in the November general election.

Governor Barbour received four notable Democratic endorsements, including Xavier Bishop, Mike Espy, Brad Dye, and Bill Waller.[2] Bill Waller and Brad Dye are conservative Democrats who served as Governor and Lt. Governor of Mississippi. Xavier Bishop is a long-time Democrat activist and the Democratic Mayor of Moss Point. Mike Espy is a former Democratic Congressman from the 2nd District of Mississippi and served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton. He noted Governor Barbour's competency and character as reasons for his endorsement.[3]

Fred Thompson's campaign finance investigation found that Barbour, as RNC chair, was involved in illegally raising money from overseas sources.[4]

In September 2008, Barbour was accused of trying to influence the outcome of the 2008 Senate race by placing the candidates at the bottom of the ballot. Since Mississippi electoral law mandates the placing of federal elections at the top of the ballot, Barbour was ordered by a circuit court to comply with the ballot laws.[5]

2003 campaign controversy

After two decades in Washington, D.C., Barbour announced in 2003 his intention to run for governor of Mississippi. On August 5, 2003, he won the Republican gubernatorial primary over Canton trial attorney Mitch Tyner.

A photograph of Barbour with members of The Council of Conservative Citzens members appeared on their CCC webpage, and some commentators and pundits demanded that Barbour ask for his picture to be removed from the site, but Barbour refused. The CCC was in the past a proponent of segregation. Barbour stated that ""Once you start down the slippery slope of saying,'That person can't be for me,' then where do you stop?... I don't care who has my picture. My picture's in the public domain." Barbour's Democratic opponent, Governor Musgrove, declined to be critical, stating that he had also attended Blackhawk rallies in the past, and would have done so that year except for a scheduling conflict.

Accomplishments

Barbour translated his lobbying skills into success at winning over a legislature dominated by Democrats. He’s had to call quite a few special sessions to force an issue.

Barbour inherited a $700 million budget deficit that he overcame without raising taxes. As stated previously, he vetoed a cigarette tax increase that had broad support. He increased state spending on K-12 education by 9 percent and higher-education spending by even more. He also fully funded education for the year 2008. This is a very rare occurrence in Mississippi. He’s also boosted spending on job training and economic development programs that are aimed at improving standards of living in his long-impoverished state. He kept the budget in the black by cutting in other areas.

Among his most meaningful policy changes was including a tort-reform measure that has been hailed as one of the strictest in the nation. Barbour rarely made a speech during his gubernatorial campaign without mentioning this subject and was able to convert political support into law, overcoming the resistance of House Democratic leaders. Barbour then embarked on a “tort tour” to encourage other states to follow Mississippi’s lead. “We’ve gone from being labeled as a judicial hellhole and the center of jackpot justice to a state that now has model legislation,” says Charlie Ross, a Republican who chairs the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

Criticisms

Barbour has been accused of personally profiting from Katrina recovery by steering contracts to his own lobbying firm.[6] He has also received his share of criticism for his refusal to approve a bill to increase the cigarette tax and decrease the grocery tax passed the state House of Representatives. Mississippi currently has the third-lowest cigarette tax and the highest grocery tax—while being the poorest state in the country. Barbour stated that the lack of revenue generated after the tax swap would quite possibly result in bankrupting the state government which was already fragile due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The House of Representatives could produce no figures to dispute this assertion. Also, in his successful 2004 campaign, Barbour ran on the platform that he would veto any tax increase.[7] The criticism was compounded by the fact that he broke his anti-tax pledge by advocating higher hospital bed taxes.[8]

RNC Chairman

In 1993, Barbour became chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 1994, during his tenure as RNC chair, Republicans captured both houses of the United States Congress, taking the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years.

Campaign contributions

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 Haley Barbour's donors each year.[9] Click [show] for more information.


Awards

In 2006, Governing magazine named Barbour as one of nine "Public Officials of the Year" for his response to Hurricane Katrina.[10] Other honorees included President Richard Codey of the New Jersey State Senate. Each year since 1994, Governing has selected a handful of state and local officials to honor for standout job performance. The Public Officials of the Year program "recognizes leaders from state, city and county government who exemplify the ideals of public service."[11]

See also

External links

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