BY: Geoff Pender


“Bribery is legal in Mississippi.”

To me, this was the most memorable statement from the political stumping at last week’s Neshoba County Fair. It came from a down-ticket, local-area candidate who spoke early in the morning when few were listening.

He was referencing Mississippi’s campaign finance laws — much in the news lately — that don’t have a clear prohibition against spending campaign funds on personal expenses. That’s not to say it’s legal — an attorney general’s opinion has warned for years that there could be state and federal tax and other legal problems from laundering money through a campaign — but no one in recent memory has faced ramifications.

Given the near total lack of enforcement of state campaign finance laws and reporting requirements, they don’t provide a clear prohibition against much of anything.

Here’s a basic, quick hypothetical explanation of the system and problems it poses:


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