Haley Barbour is the Republican governor of Mississippi, currently serving his second term, which he won in 2007. (Mississippi limits its governors to two terms.) The former head of the Republican National Committee, Barbour has been one of the highest paid lobbyists in the world, representing many interests, including Big Tobacco. The lobbying firm he helped start in Washington, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, LLC., still bears his name. He placed his interests there in a blind trust when he became governor of Mississippi and still receives payments from the firm. (He has refused to disclose his tax returns, unlike previous governors, however.)
Barbour’s power as a lobbyist for major corporations, such as big tobacco and energy companies, is legendary in Washington. In 2002, President Bush changed his campaign stance on carbon dioxide emissions after Barbour-the-lobbyist “virtually papered the White House, from Vice President Dick Cheney on down, with a memo suggesting the president must provide a sound energy policy by not taking action against carbon dioxide,” reported the Associated Press. Barbour’s clients had given generously to Bush’s campaign. “‘A moment of truth is arriving,’ Barbour wrote Cheney on March 1, 2001, in a two-page document on his lobbying firm letterhead that was copied into top White House officials and three Cabinet secretaries.”
As chairman of the National Policy Forum, which he formed in 1993, Barbour authored the book “Agenda for America: A Republican Direction for the Future,” in 1996, setting out a conservative vision for America. Barbour called the forum a non-profit “think tank,” but the forum got its money from large corporate contributors, including several foreign sources, and Barbour was believed to have promised the contributors a role in selling U.S. policy. During the controversy, for instance, a memo emerged from Barbour to GOP contributors assuring them that the Republican National Committee was behind the effort. The IRS took note, and pulled the group’s tax-exempt status.
He also helped author and push Newt Gingrich’s failed “Contract with America,” and is a primary architect, along with the late Lee Atwater, of the Republican Party’s ”southern strategy,” to appeal to former Dixiecrats in the South.
When he was running for governor in 2003, the white-supremacist the Council for Conservative Citizens posted a photograph of Barbour posing with its leaders at the Black Hawk political rally (a rally originally established by segregationists in the state and which the CofCC still promotes). Barbour refused to ask that the CofCC remove his photograph from their Web site. His campaign materials, mailed to North Jackson residents, included a wedding photograph of him and wife, Marsha, cutting a cake with an image of Colonel Reb (the controversial Ole Miss mascot is a former plantation owner that symbolized the ways of the Old South) on top. He also ran ads criticizing incumbent Ronnie Musgrove for “attacking our flag,” referring to Musgrove’s support of a failed effort to change the Confederate emblem in the state flag.
During his campaign, Barbour also disparaged Headstart programs by saying that too many of its children are sitting on a piano bench in a whorehouse, bringing to many minds Ronald Reagan’s “welfare mother” race rhetoric, which was a primary took of early GOP southern strategists. (Barbour was a political operative for Reagan.)
As governor, Barbour’s first obsession was with enacting tort reform in Mississippi.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, many credited Barbour with both responding well to the crisis and for bringing billions of dollars in federal aid to Mississippi. However, he regularly disparaged people in Lousiana—especially Democratic elected officials—for “whining” louder than Mississippi, even though two years after the hurricane, many Mississippians were still living in poisonous FEMA trailers. A ”Katrina Effect” backlash started brewing in 2007, with one of Barbour’s faithful followers in the Mississippi Senate, Tommy Robertson of Moss Point, defeated handily in the August primaries.
Barbour also started to come under fire because much of the federal money was doled out to his friends and family, including his niece, Rosemary Barbour, the wife of outgoing Hinds County Supervisor Charles Barbour, who is under investigation by the FBI.
July-August, 2008, Jackson Free Press: Ronni Mott of Jackson Free Press, with intern Sophie McNeil, break stories that string of men pardoned by Barbour had killed wives and/or girlfriends:
Barbour Gives Relief to 4 ‘Domestic’ Killers, of 5 Total
Barbour Helps Domestic Killers
JFP Editorial: Barbour, Clean Up the Mess
Dec. 17, 2009: Radley Balko writes about JFP story on Barbour pardons in Slate: Haley Barbour’s Bizarre Pardon Record
Sept. 13, 2007, Jackson Free Press: Barbour Used Ledger to Excuse Non-Disclosure
Sept. 12, 2007, Jackson Free Press: Haley’s Shadow Money
Sept. 12, 2007, Jackson Free Press: Recovery for the Rich?
Sept. 12, 2007, Jackson Free Press: Mississippians Be Damned (editor’s note)
Sept. 9, 2007, (Tupelo, Miss.) Daily Journal: Ethics and Money (editorial)
Sept. 5, 2007, (Tupelo, Miss.) Daily Journal: BOBBY HARRISON: Barbour’s Stake in Firm the Key Question
Sept. 5, 2007, Think Progress: Giuliani: Corruption-Laden Haley Barbour ‘On The Top Of Everybody’s List’ For VP (Includes list of links to stories)
Aug. 31, 2007, Salon: Hurricane Recovery, Republican Style (Reprinted in JFP Sept. 12, 2007)
Aug. 29, 2007, Bloomberg News: Barbour Held Stock in Parent of Lobby Firm
Aug. 16, 2007, Bloomberg: Mississippi Governor’s Associates Profit From Katrina Recovery
Aug. 12, 2007, JFP: Haley Barbour’s ‘Trophy Wife’ Gaffe
Aug. 9, 2007, Bill Minor: ‘Trophy Wife’ Comment Ruffles Some Feathers
July 26, 2007: Haley Barbour’s Remarks at the Neshoba County Fair
May 25, 2007, Salon: A Harder Look at Haley Barbour’s Post-Katrina Miracle
Oct. 28, 2005, Jackson Free Press: Haley’s Unholy Alliance
Oct. 10, 2005, Washington Post: Buddy Story: Grab A Chair and a Glass
Sept. 26, 2005, Newsweek: Haley Barbour’s Beltway Ties Help Mississippi
Winter 2003, Southern Poverty Law Center: ‘Southern Strategy’: In Mississippi, race and flag color gubernatorial campaign
Oct. 29, 2003, JFP: Haley’s Choice: Native Son Comes Home (profile)
April 26, 2002, Associated Press: White House Shifted Carbon Dioxide Emissions Policy After Lobbyist’s Letter
White House Shifts Emissions Policy After Barbour Letter[/url]
July 24, 1997, U.S. Senate hearing: Sen. Fred Thompson Questioning Haley Barbour
July 4, 1997, Albion Monitor: The Republicans and Asian Money