By The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss
JACKSON, Miss. —
The Mississippi Ethics Commission should be congratulated for aggressively investigating the illegal actions of a state lawmaker whose family business profited from more than $400,000 in state contracts, much of that profiting in violation of state ethics law and the Mississippi Constitution.
Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Hood said the deal cut with Rep. Kevin McGee, R-Brandon, was in the best interest of the state. McGee agreed to resign from the Legislature and never run for another legislative seat again. Additionally, he has to pay a $10,000 fine and his company cannot do business with the state for a year.
Monetarily, that’s a far cry from the original order in February, which required McGee to repay the more than $346,000 the Ethics Commission found he received illegally on top of paying a $50,000 fine. But as Hood said, it was unlikely that the state would ever receive that money. At the same time, McGee would be allowed to stay in the House, at least until he faced re-election and faced an opponent likely to question his ethics.
Still, we are somewhat troubled by the deal. We’re troubled because we didn’t see any contrition from McGee, who at the end of the day violated the state Constitution and broke the trust given him by voters to be a good steward of their money.
On Twitter, McGee even became defiant because someone followed him. “To my new follower who wants to laugh at my misery you won’t find any misery here! Plus my replacement will be just like me! Good luck,” he wrote after news broke of his resignation. We don’t know which new follower elicited the tweet, though based on his recent followers around that time it was likely Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole.
Cole, in February, called on McGee to resign. McGee is a Republican who got in ethics trouble. That the opposing party’s chairman called on him to resign is hardly shocking. What is shocking, however, is that McGee would offer no contrition to the people of Mississippi — not in his official letter of resignation, not in an issued statement, not even on Facebook or Twitter. ...
... McGee should have issued a public apology. His lack of contrition in a state that values humility and is generous with forgiveness is a sad commentary on his character.