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Haley Reeves Barbour (born October 22, 1947) is an Americanmarker politician currently serving as the Governor of Mississippimarker. He gained a national spotlight in August 2005 after Mississippi was hit by Hurricane Katrina. Barbour won re-election as Governor in 2007. Under Mississippi's term limits, Barbour cannot run again for Governor in 2011 when his term ends.

Prior to being elected Governor, Barbour worked as a lawyer and lobbyist, and also served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, during which the Republicans captured both the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives for the first time since 1954. On June 24, 2009, Barbour was announced as the new leader of the Republican Governors Association, following the resignation of South Carolinamarker Governor Mark Sanford as its leader.

Early years

Barbour, the youngest of three sons, was born in Yazoo City, Mississippimarker, where he was raised, to Jeptha Fowlkes Barbour, Jr. His father, a lawyer, died when Barbour was two years old. He attended the University of Mississippimarker in Oxfordmarker, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, but skipped the first semester of his senior year to work on Richard Nixon's 1968 election campaign. He never earned a bachelor's degree. At the age of twenty-two, he ran the 1970 census for the state of Mississippi. He enrolled at the University of Mississippimarker Law School, receiving a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1972. Subsequently he joined his father's law firm in Yazoo City.

Lobbying career

In 1991, Barbour helped found Barbour & Rogers, LLC, a Washington, D.C.marker-based lobbying firm, with Ed Rogers, a lawyer who formerly worked in the George H. W. Bush administration. In 1994, Lanny Griffith (also a former Bush Administration appointee) joined the firm to form Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, LLC. In 1998, Fortune magazine named Barbour Griffith & Rogers the second-most-powerful lobbying firm in America. In 2001, after the inauguration of George W. Bush, Fortune named it the most powerful. The firm has made millions of dollars lobbying on behalf of the tobacco industry.

RNC Chairman

In 1993, Barbour became chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 1994, during his tenure as RNC chair, Republicans captured both houses of the United States Congress, taking the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. In 1997, Barbour ceased being chairman of the RNC.

2003 campaign

After two decades in Washington, D.C., Barbour announced in 2003 his intention to run for governor of Mississippi. On August 5, 2003, he won the Republican gubernatorial primary over Canton trial attorney Mitch Tyner. Barbour's campaign manager was his nephew Henry Barbour.

During the campaign a controversy arose when Barbour chose to speak at the Blackhawk Rally, a fundraiser for the Blackhawk "council school" in Blackhawk, Mississippi. Such "council schools", also referred to in Mississippi lexicon as "academies", were established by the White Citizens' Council movement in reaction to the demands for racial integration by the American Civil Rights movement. The Blackhawk rally was hosted by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC or CofCC). The key element of Citizens' Councils has traditionally been opposition to racial integration in public schools.

A photograph of Barbour with CCC members appeared on the CCC webpage, and some commentators and pundits demanded that Barbour ask for his picture to be removed from the site, but Barbour refused. [6] Barbour stated that "Once you start down the slippery slope of saying,'That person can't be for me,' then where do you stop?... I don't care who has my picture. My picture's in the public domain." Barbour's Democratic opponent, Governor Musgrove, declined to be critical, stating that he had also attended Blackhawk rallies in the past, and would have done so that year except for a scheduling conflict.

Barbour defeated incumbent Democrat Ronnie Musgrove in the general election on November 4, 2003, with 53 percent of the vote to Musgrove's 46 percent. Barbour became just the second Republican governor elected in Mississippi since Reconstruction, the first being Kirk Fordice.

2007 re-election

Barbour announced on February 8, 2007 that he would seek a second term as Governor of Mississippi. He announced the beginning of his re-election campaign at a series of meetings across the state on February 12, 2007. During his campaign, Barbour signed the Americans for Tax Reform "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" and vowed not to institute any new taxes or raise any existing ones.

He defeated Frederick Jones in the Republican primary on August 7 and Democrat John Arthur Eaves, Jr. in the November general election.

Governor Barbour received four notable Democratic endorsements, including Xavier Bishop, Mike Espy, Brad Dye, and Bill Waller. Bill Waller and Brad Dye are conservative Democrats who served as Governor and Lt. Governor of Mississippi. Xavier Bishop is a long-time Democratic activist and the Democratic Mayor of Moss Pointmarker. Mike Espy is a former Democratic Congressman from the 2nd District of Mississippi and served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton. He noted Governor Barbour's competency and character as reasons for his endorsement.

Governorship

Barbour took office in January 2004.

Barbour vs. The Partnership

Barbour's taxation policies have not been without contention. In March 2006 Barbour vetoed a bill that would lower grocery taxes, while simultaneously raising tobacco taxes. Mississippians pay some of the highest grocery taxes in the nation. The "Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids" insinuated that Barbour's lobbying-era affinity with the tobacco industry may also explain his 2006 proposal to dismantle Mississippi's controversial youth-tobacco-prevention program, called The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. The Partnership is a private, non-profit group which receives $20 million annually and is led by former Attorney General Mike Moore. Moore created the organization when he, representing the State of Mississippi, settled a multi-billion dollar suit with the tobacco industry. According to the suit, the funds were to offset the extra costs incurred by Medicaid while dealing with smoking related illnesses. Opponents have consistently claimed that Moore uses the organization to further his political ambitions. The Partnership regularly offers up huge grants to political organizations such as the Legislative Black Caucus. Many point to even more facts such as The Partnership not allowing a public audit which in turn permits the group to have no public accountability of its expenditures of state funds. In 2006, Judge Jaye Bradley, the same judge that awarded Moore the annual $20 million in 2000, vacated her previous decision. Bradley claimed she did not decide against The Partnership because of its inability to perform but because she believes that the state legislature is the only body that can legally decide how state funds can be delegated. Following the decision, Barbour stated that it says a lot about Judge Bradley “...that she is a strong enough person to have the gumption to vacate her own order. The only way for the state to spend state funding is for the Legislature to appropriate it through the legislative process." After an appeal by Moore, Barbour went on to win a Mississippi Supreme Court battle that prevented the tobacco settlement moneys from funding the program, maintaining that is unconstitutional for a judge to award state proceeds to a private organization. Barbour's lawyer stated The Partnership was "the most blatant diversion of public funds to a private corporation in the history of the state of Mississippi" as The Partnership refuses to allow a state audit of its expenditures of the state's money.

Hurricane Katrina response

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into Mississippi's coast, killing 231 people, devastating the state's $2.7 billion-a-year casino industry and leaving tens of thousands homeless. (see Effect of Hurricane Katrina on Mississippi). Barbour's response was characterized by a concerted effort at evacuation, tough-minded talk on looters and an unwillingness to blame the federal government. His response was compared, favorably, to that of Rudy Giuliani in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Barbour credited the countless government workers who helped southern Mississippi cope with the hurricane. But Barbour was praised by the coast's citizens as a strong leader who can communicate calmly to the public, and provide “a central decision-making point for when things get balled up or go sideways, which they do,” as Barbour says.

While the reconstruction process doesn’t dictate how localities should rebuild, Barbour has touted New Urbanist principles in constructing more compact communities. “They have the chance to build some things very differently,” he says. “The goal is to build the coast back like it can be, rather than simply like it was.”

The evacuation order was issued by local officials more than 24 hours before the hurricane hit, and Mississippi activated 750 National Guard troops as of August 29, the day of the hurricane.

Other actions in office

Barbour has been praised for translating his lobbying skills into success at winning over a legislature dominated by Democrats. He has called several special legislative sessions to force an issue.

When Barbour took office, the state of Mississippi had run a $709 million budget deficit for the 2004 fiscal year. With bipartisan support, and without raising taxes, Barbour implemented a plan called Operation: Streamline to cut the budget deficit in half. He accomplished this largely by reducing spending on social services, most notably Medicaid; the 2005 budget drastically reduced coverage for 65,000 individuals classified as Poverty-Level Aged and Disabled (PLAD), most of whom qualified for the federal Medicare program, and also significantly limited prescription drug coverage. In 2005, the state was budgeted to spend a total of $130 million less on Medicaid than in the previous year. This trend continued in the state budget for the 2006 fiscal year. After a long special session, the legislature approved a budget that featured more social service cuts but also increased educational spending. With tax revenues higher than expected during the 2006 fiscal year, due in large part to increased sales tax revenues in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the state achieved its first balanced budget in years. In the 2008 fiscal year budget, for the first time since its enactment in 1997, the state fully funded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

Building on a 2002 tort reform bill passed by his predecessor, Barbour also introduced a new tort reform measure that has been described as one of the strictest in the nation. Barbour rarely made a speech during his gubernatorial campaign without mentioning this subject and was able to convert political support into law, overcoming the resistance of House Democratic leaders, who argued that further legislation would disenfranchise people with legitimate complaints against corporations. Barbour then embarked on a "tort tour" to encourage other states to follow Mississippi’s lead. "We’ve gone from being labeled as a judicial hellhole and the center of jackpot justice to a state that now has model legislation," says Charlie Ross (R), the chair of the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

Under Barbour's leadership, Mississippi has enacted some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the US, including a complete ban (with exceptions only in cases where the woman's life is threatened or she has been raped) in the event that the Supreme Courtmarker overturns Roe v. Wade.

Recent activities

In April 2009 Barbour joined a conservative policy group to discuss Republican policies in town hall meetings. The group also includes former Massachusettsmarker Governor Mitt Romney, former Floridamarker Governor Jeb Bush, Louisianamarker Governor Bobby Jindal, and Senator John McCain.

On June 24, 2009 Barbour assumed the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association. This came after the resignation of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

Criticisms

Barbour has been accused of personally profiting from Hurricane Katrina recovery. Barbour is an owner of the parent company of lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers Inc., and he receives a pension and profit-sharing plan benefits from it. The lobbying firm has lobbied the state to give recovery contracts to its clients. Some of the proceeds of the firm's lobbying activities are deposited into Barbour's investment account. According to Barbour's attorney, a blind trust executed in 2004 prevents Barbour knowing the composition of his investments in order to eliminate any conflicts of interest.

Barbour has also received criticism for his refusal to approve a bill to increase the cigarette tax and decrease the grocery tax passed the state House of Representatives. Mississippi currently has the third-lowest cigarette tax and the highest grocery tax—while being the poorest state in the country. Barbour stated that the lack of revenue generated after the tax swap would quite possibly result in bankrupting the state government which was already fragile due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The House of Representatives could produce no figures to dispute this assertion. Also, in his successful 2004 campaign, Barbour ran on the platform that he would veto any tax increase. The criticism was compounded by the fact that he broke his anti-tax pledge by advocating higher hospital bed taxes.

In September 2008, Democrat accused Barbour of trying to influence the outcome of the 2008 Senate race by placing the candidates at the bottom of the ballot. Since Mississippi electoral law mandates the placing of federal elections at the top of the ballot, Barbour was ordered by a circuit court to comply with the ballot laws.

Future Plans

Since he visited Iowa in 2009, there has been speculation that Barbour may run for president in 2012.

Public Image

In July 2009, a Rasmussen Reports poll indicated that 34% of registered Republicans have a favorable view of him. However, 37% dislike him, which is the highest unfavorable percentage among 5 other possible Republican candidates for 2012: Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty. Also, 21% of GOP voters would least like to see Barbour win the party nomination in 2012.

References

  1. USA Today Campaign 2004 Mississippi Governor Retrieved May 10, 2007
  2. Barbour, Griffith & Rodgers website
  3. Time-Warner article on Barbour, Griffith & Rogers
  4. Fortune magazine naming Barbour, Griffith & Rogers most powerful lobbying firm in America
  5. Big Tobacco's 1997 Congressional Lobbying
  6. Barbour won't ask CCC to take photo off Web site
  7. List of Mississippi Governors: Definition and Links by Encyclopedian.com
  8. 'No Tax' Pledge Signers Win in Mississippi and Kentucky - by John Skorburg - The Heartland Institute
  9. MS-Gov: Haley Barbour Wins Endorsement of Prominent Dems | Redstate
  10. Legislature should override pro-tobacco Barbour
  11. Clarion Ledger article: Grocery, cigarette tax shift passes
  12. Gov. Barbour’s Proposal Would Destroy One of Nation’s Best Tobacco Prevention Programs, Help Big Tobacco At the Expense of Mississippi’s Kids
  13. No Moore Partnership? June 8, 2006
  14. Tobacco Wars
  15. Governor: Worse than Camille
  16. Science Daily article on Barbour's reaction to Hurricane Katrina
  17. WJLA.com article on Katrina reaction
  18. Opinionjournal.com article on Katrina reaction
  19. Defenselink.mil report on National Guard activation
  20. Homelandresponse.org report
  21. Washington Post article on National Guard reaction
  22. Steady in a Storm: Reassuring and rebuilding Mississippi after Katrina
  23. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/eye-on-2012/barbour-to-iowa-1.html
  24. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2012/palin_at_the_top_and_bottom_for_gop_voters_in_2012


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