Getting Dick In Mississippi

So why is Trent Lott really resigning from the Senate so suddenly? So far the rumors of the liaison with the rent boy have proved to be unfounded (and on behalf of self-respecting gay men everywhere, may I say "Whew!"). The conventional wisdom is that he's leaving early to take advantage of the change in the ethics rules that would forbid him from lobbying for two years if he retired after December 31, 2007, and another story has it that he's going to team up with John Breaux, the former senator from Louisiana. So it's all about the money, right? Bob Novak shakes his head in dismay that such an "extraordinary" career is coming to an end.

But could there be another, more pressing reason?

Perhaps he's getting out in order to dodge the fallout that might get all over him from the indictment of Dick Scruggs, his brother-in-law, for bribery.
Richard F. Scruggs, a prominent trial lawyer who has been fighting insurance companies over payments for damage from Hurricane Katrina, was indicted yesterday by federal authorities on charges of offering a bribe of $50,000 to a Mississippi state judge in a dispute over fees with another lawyer.

The indictment, filed in federal court in Oxford, Miss., Mr. Scruggs’s hometown, said that on behalf of Mr. Scruggs, a colleague met several times this year with State Judge Henry L. Lackey in his chambers in Calhoun County to propose and deliver the bribe in installments.

Mr. Scruggs’s son Zachary, who is a partner in the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, and Sidney A. Backstrom, another partner, were also indicted, as were Mr. Scruggs’s colleague, Timothy R. Balducci, a partner in the firm of Patterson & Balducci, and Steven A. Patterson, a staff member in the firm. Mr. Scruggs, his son and the others were all accused of conspiracy.


Mr. Scruggs, who has negotiated settlements worth more than $100 million this year with State Farm and other insurers, is a brother-in-law of Senator Trent Lott and a close friend of Mike Moore, former Mississippi attorney. He first gained national attention in the late 1990s for helping win a settlement of $248 billion from the tobacco industry.
So far no one has said that Mr. Lott is in any way connected to his brother-in-law and nephew's doings. But then again, Mr. Scruggs represented Mr. Lott in a lawsuit against State Farm for unpaid damages from Hurricane Katrina, so if there's an investigation of Mr. Scruggs, it might skate a little too close to Mr. Lott for comfort.

And if this was Hillary Clinton's brother-in-law that was under indictment, you can be sure that the GOP -- lead by Mr. Lott -- would go after her with a full-throated vengence. Just sayin'...

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