What Mississippians Are Reading: Brandon Presley’s War On Corruption Plan
Earlier this week, Brandon Presley released the first plank of his historic ethics plan at the steps of the State Capitol.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 18, 2023
Nettleton - Earlier this week, Brandon Presley released the first plank of his historic ethics plan at the steps of the State Capitol. He discussed plans to clean up Tate Reeves’ corruption and take on giant corporations and lobbyists.
Read more below: Mississippi Today: ‘Tate Reeves will not tackle corruption’: Brandon Presley unveils ethics package, slams governor for welfare scandal Bobby Harrison and Geoff Pender May 16, 2023
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley unveiled his proposed ethics reforms Tuesday on the south steps of the state Capitol, where the heat and humidity were nearly as blistering as his attack on incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.
Presley, the northern district public service commissioner, said revelations of $77 million in misspent welfare funds have “exposed a deeper infection of corruption in state government.” He laid out what he called a corrupt system where lobbyists and people close to politicians are rewarded, and average Mississippians have no recourse.
And the Democratic candidate said the welfare scandal occurred during his opponent’s lieutenant governorship, when Reeves presided over the Senate that had oversight responsibilities of state spending.
Presley laid out several ethics changes he’d work to implement on his first day as governor if elected, adding that he would call a special session to propose the reforms.
Presley retold the story of his upbringing, saying his late single mother had to have the water cut off to pay the family’s bill. He used the anecdote to underscore how millions in welfare funds that were supposed to help struggling Mississippians were instead squandered by state government officials. He pointed out that the funds were instead used to help former NFL legend Brett Favre build a volleyball court at the University of Southern Mississippi and to reward Paul Lacoste, who Presley called Reeves’ personal trainer who taught Reeves “to do jumping jacks.”
He said the state is now trying to recoup welfare funds that Favre and Lacoste received.
"Millions of taxpayer dollars were stolen from programs to support people just like my momma, and mommas and daddies and grandparents all across Mississippi,” Presley said. “And they went to celebrities, a volleyball court, the governor’s personal trainer and all sorts of pet projects … This type of corruption and this good ole boy network makes me sick at my stomach.”
"Tate Reeves will not tackle corruption. Let me say that again, he will not tackle corruption,” Presley said. “He doesn’t have the guts to do it. It will make too many of his buddies mad and it will upset the system that he has benefited from for the entire time he’s been in state service.”
When asked how hard it would be to convince the Legislature to enact his ethics package, Presley said he believes lawmakers would cooperate. He said the special session would place a spotlight on the issue and make it more difficult for legislators to reject the package.
The Presley campaign documented almost $22,000 in gifts from lobbyists that Reeves has received during his political career. The campaign also pointed out that Reeves committed in the past to lobbying reform but did not make any effort to change lobbying laws as governor.
Associated Press: Democrat pledges ethics package in his challenge of Mississippi GOP governor Emily Wagster Pettus May 16, 2023
A Democrat running for Mississippi governor said Tuesday that he will push legislators to enact an ethics package that includes limits on campaign donations, frequent disclosure about lobbyists’ spending and a ban on former state officials quickly becoming lobbyists.
"We’re going to send a message in the tune of that old Willie Nelson song: ‘Shut Out the Lights, the Party’s Over,’” Brandon Presley said during a news conference on the Capitol steps.
Presley is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. Presley is in his fourth term as an elected member of the three-person Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.
Presley on Tuesday said a welfare misspending case shows corruption is a problem in Mississippi government. He referred to welfare money being spent on fitness classes taught by Paul Lacoste, who played football at Mississippi State University and for the Canadian Football League. Lacoste taught classes taken by Reeves, several lawmakers and other people.
“If you’re Tate Reeves’ personal trainer, the guy that teaches him to do jumping jacks, then you can get $1.3 million,” Presley said. “This type of corruption and this sort of good old boy network makes me sick at my stomach.”
Lacoste is among more than three dozen people and businesses being sued by the Mississippi Department of Human Services to try to recover welfare money that was misspent between 2016 and 2019 — when Reeves was lieutenant governor and presiding over the state Senate.
Court records filed last year show Lacoste’s business, Victory Sports Foundation, had a $1.3 million contract to teach fitness classes from 2018 to 2019, with money coming from a nonprofit organization that had Human Services contracts to spend money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families antipoverty program.
WJTV: Brandon Presley Unveils First Policy Plank Ahead of Gubernatorial Race Richard Lake May 16, 2023
[TRANSCRIPT] Over to election news, democratic candidate for governor Brandon Presley made his first stop in the Jackson Metro this morning, unveiling his plan to clean up campaign donation laws. If elected as governor, Presley pledges to put an ethics reform bill together, changing many state campaign laws. He also aims to ban unlimited gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers and elected officials, limit the amount of special interest money to state officials and place limits on individual campaign contributions.
"I'm running to change that system. We have unlimited contributions in Mississippi. States surrounding us don't have unlimited contributions. When I talk to folks around the country, they laugh at the fact that Mississippi has unlimited amounts of money that can be poured into campaigns. I am running to change that, to fix it. Campaigns cost money, but we can limit the influence of campaign contributors by limiting how much can be poured into campaigns."
WLBT: Democratic Candidate announces first pillar of 2023 campaign: Calls out Governor Tate Reeves in process Joseph Doehring May 16, 2023
Mississippi’s only Democratic candidate for the Gubernatorial Election has announced his campaign plan for the 2023 race.
Former Mississippi Public Service member Brandon Presley is looking to take down a financial system he calls “corrupt” and says current Governor Tate Reeves has benefitted off of it.
“People in Mississippi know in their hearts that Tate Reeves will not fight this corrupt system. He won’t fight this corrupt system because it’s helped him get where he is. He’s hoping that this corrupt system will keep him in the governor’s office.”
The first piece to Presley’s puzzle is putting a limit on the amount of gifts and money a running candidate or current sitting official can receive, from lobbyists to state officials, down to everyday donors.
"Place limits on the currently unlimited flow of campaign contributions from individuals political action committees and completely banning direct contributions from corporations, banning state officeholders and candidates from office from accepting contributions while the legislature is in session.”
Currently, Mississippi doesn’t have a cap on how much a lobbyist, public or private donor, or large organization can contribute to a campaign.
Presley believes by adding a cap, future elections would become less about money and more about policy.
"We have unlimited contributions in Mississippi. States surrounding us don’t have unlimited contributions. When I talked to folks around the country, they laughed at the fact that Mississippi has unlimited amounts of money that can be poured into campaigns. I am running to change that... to fix it. These campaigns cost money, but we can limit the influence of campaign contributors by limiting how much can be poured into campaigns,” said Presley.
He went as far as to give examples of gifts that Governor Reeves has received over the last 10 years since he initially ran for governor.
Some included $3,277 for a luxury hotel in 2013 and over $2,000 in Ole Miss athletics tickets and dinner expenses. All of the expenses listed below totaling out to nearly $22,000.
"When I’m Governor, I intend [on the] first day to declare war on corruption, period. It all starts with sanitizing a sick and infected system in this building, a system where if you know the right corners to hide around as a lobbyist, you can get done what you want done.”
Presley’s campaign team released the following statement regarding his future campaign plan around the Magnolia State: “In the coming weeks, the Brandon Presley for Mississippi campaign will discuss further ways we can clean up state government and put the power back in the hands of the people.”
Clarion Ledger: Brandon Presley announces ethics platform, says it will be top priority on day one as gov. Wicker Perlis May 16, 2023
From the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol on Tuesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley declared that if he is elected, his administration would start a "war on corruption.
Presley, who criticized incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves for not doing more to push through ethics changes in his first term, said he would call a special session to force the Legislature to consider a number of proposals he outlined in his speech Tuesday.
"We're going to see where the House and Senate members stand. We're going to see where they stand when it comes to cleaning up this system and saying no to their lobbyist buddies," Presley said. "We're going to make sure Mississippians come first."
Presley said if elected his ethics package would include banning unlimited gifts from lobbyists, requiring weekly gift and lobbying disclosures and placing limits on campaign contributions from individuals and political action committees. He also said he would ban direct contributions from corporations, prohibit candidates from accepting money while the Legislature is in session and institute a requirement that government employees go at least one-year before becoming lobbyists, and that lobbyists do the same before becoming government employees. Presley further said he would push for the reauthorization of the state's public records law — which is set to expire next year — and for the Legislature to be subject to the open meetings law.
"We're going to send a message, in the tune of that old Willie Nelson song, 'shut out the lights, the party's over.' Shut out the lights, the party is over. Mississippians have seen what is going on this system, and they're sick of it," Presley said. "We're going to make big campaign check writers mad. We're going to make lobbyists mad. We're going to make special interest people mad. Because they've had their day in Mississippi long enough, and we see what it's benefited us, nothing."
"When we win in November it will be a mandate from the people," Presley said. "I think that no matter if you're in the House or Senate, whether you're in a ruby red Republican district or a deep blue district, we're going to send a message through this campaign that we're going to clean this mess up."
In a statement shared with members of the media Tuesday, the Presley campaign compiled a list of lobbyist gifts Reeves has received throughout his political career, as reported to and published by the secretary of state. The statement highlights about $10,000 in gifts, including a trip to the Kentucky Derby in 2013 when Reeves was lieutenant governor. According to the secretary of state's lobbyist recipient search, Churchill Downs Inc. provided gifts worth more than $4,800 for that trip, including paying for Reeves' travel, hotel and ticket to the race. Overall, in disclosures dating back to a 2010 dinner, Reeves has received gifts worth $21,977.11, according to the lobbyist recipient search results.
The primaries will take place in August, with the general election coming on Nov. 7. Mississippi is one of three states with off-year gubernatorial elections this year. The other two are Louisiana and Kentucky, both of which are typically red states that currently have Democratic governors.
WTOK: Brandon Presley Unveils Platform May 16, 2023
[TRANSCRIPT] Mississippi's only democratic candidate for governor called a press conference Tuesday morning to talk about his platform. But that press conference concentrated on a campaign finance system Presley calls "corrupt.” Presley says it’s a system that Governor Tate Reeves plays all too well, and has no intention of reforming.
"When we win in November, it'll be a mandate from the people."
Confident and bold are a few words to describe democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley's tuesday morning press conference. While announcing the first pillar of his 2023 campaign, Presley took the time to call out current governor Tate Reeves.
"People in Mississippi know in their hearts that Tate Reeves will not fight this corrupt system. He won't fight this corrupt system because it's helped him get where he is and he's hoping that this corrupt system will keep him in the governor's office."
"Place limits on the currently unlimited flow of campaign contributions from individuals political action committees and completely banning direct contributions from corporations, banning state officeholders and candidates from office from accepting contributions while the legislature is in session."
Going as far to give examples of gifts that Governor Reeves' has received over the last 10-years since he initially ran for governor. Some included $3,277 for a luxury hotel in 2013... over $2,000 in Ole Miss athletics tickets and dinner expenses and all expenses totaling out to nearly $22,000.
Brandon Presley is a fighter who keeps his promises, stands up for the little guy, and isn't afraid to ruffle more than a few feathers to deliver results for hardworking Mississippi families. Brandon served as Mayor of Nettleton from 2001 to 2007, where he got the town moving again, then balanced the budget every year and cut taxes twice. As Public Service Commissioner, Brandon opened up meetings that had been closed to the public for decades, brought high-speed internet to some of the most remote and forgotten parts of Mississippi, put people back to work with the Hire Mississippi program, and saved taxpayers over 6 billion dollars.