The double standard exercised in politics is unbelievable and true conservatives are often the biggest victims. Case in point: Melanie Sojourner, former State Senator from Natchez.
I recently ran across an article from a Mississippi political blog that ran in January of this year. The article was about Senator Bob Dearing and a fundraiser he was planning for February 8 in Jackson and how in doing so he committed a serious ethics violation, one that was never reported by the mainstream media. The purpose of the fundraiser was to help him retire legal bills he incurred in the fight to re-gain his seat in the State Senate in 2015. The article got some issues correct but also showcased the double standard often used against conservatives.
But first, the backstory. Dearing held his seat for 30 years as a “tax and spend” liberal Democrat. He lost to Sojourner in 2011. But after Senator Sojourner committed heresy by managing Chris McDaniel’s campaign against Thad Cochran in 2014, and standing up to the Establishment repeatedly, she was targeted for political termination.
So Dearing was brought out of retirement in 2015 to reclaim his seat. But understand something here: this is the same Bob Dearing the Mississippi GOP ran expensive television ads against in 2011 showcasing his very liberal record.
After the votes were cast on Election Day, Dearing led by a handful of votes with the usual stories of vote fraud. But this time several poll workers were arrested for breaking voting laws in Franklin County, which should, by state law, disqualified that entire box. Sojourner had several very qualified, trained poll watchers who documented many instances of fraud and wrongdoing throughout the district.
The media, which in 2014 used gallons of ink to smear Sojourner and McDaniel for everything short of the Kennedy Assassination, spent almost no effort on actual arrests for voter fraud. In the ensuing election challenge, Butler Snow, the law firm of Haley Barbour and Thad Cochran, sent two lawyers to represent … Dearing!
And since Dearing couldn’t even raise enough money to run his own campaign, there’s no way he could have afforded two high-priced lawyers from Butler Snow. At the time we speculated about which fat cat might be paying the freight on this shady deal and what promises Dearing had to make to get the backing. Now we know that he must have reneged on it, which is why he is hosting fundraisers to pay his legal bills.
In the end, the dispute went before the Mississippi Senate. Many believed the Senate would simply call for a new election, rather than throw out the fraudulent boxes, which, had they done so, would have given the election outright to Sojourner. But in a shocking move, the Republican controlled Senate overwhelmingly voted to seat Bob Dearing over Melanie Sojourner.
The tax-and-spend Democrat, who the GOP had trashed as a tax-and-spend liberal just four years before, won out over the archconservative Senator who dared to speak out against the Establishment and manage McDaniel’s campaign.
Now, why do I have a problem with this article? For one, it states that Sojourner’s term in the Senate was “marked by controversy.” But what controversy?
Melanie Sojourner’s service wasn’t marked by controversy. As a matter of fact her short time in public office was highly decorated. During her four years in Jackson, she was named one of the Top 45 Republican Women in the Nation Under 45, was named Legislator of the Year by one of the state’s leading industries, a two-time winner of the American Conservative Union’s Award for Conservative Excellence, and was named a rising star to watch in the Republican Party by several Mississippi political bloggers.
But it was because she was a strong conservative – a strong conservative woman at that – who was not afraid to challenge Republican leadership that she was often under attack for things others were never reprimanded for. It makes you wonder why the “powers that be” seem to loathe strong conservative women!
Here are a few conspicuous examples:
Example #1: Sojourner was fined and publicly martyred for filing a campaign finance report late but it was because she lost all her records and many of her personal belongings in a tornado that destroyed her home. Yet she received no sympathy for that. At the same time, other elected officials went numerous years without filing before they were fined and some were never fined.
Example #2: The Lt. Governor, the media, and others claimed that Sojourner missed a lot of days and that she only voted on 80% of the bills before the Senate. However, an official record from the Senate Secretary shows that she voted on 98.25% of all bills.
But it’s obvious that since Senator Dearing is not a threat to Republican leaders, none of them will ever use the power of their office to point out his unethical activities and they are serious.
Every Senator knows that one of the worst things you can do as a public official is to use state resources to the benefit of one’s personal campaign. But Senator Dearing used such resources for his fundraiser. As the article points out, interested attendees had to RSVP an employee of the State Senate at an official Senate email address or to call a number at the State Capitol!
Such activity is highly unethical, and the article does point that out. Yet the problem is that no one in high state office ever said a word about it, the Ethics Commission never reprimanded him, and the media certainly never reported it. And therein lies the double standard – they pounced on Sojourner for any and everything, yet turn their back on what is a serious ethical violation.
This is yet further proof that Mississippi Republicans are more afraid of true conservatives than they are of Democrats. It’s time for Mississippi conservatives to drain the swamp of all Establishment Republicans.