By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times –
ATLANTA — Outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is leaving office trailed by controversy about pardons — issued over the course of his two terms in office — to eight convicted killers who worked in the governor’s mansion as “trusties.”
Barbour, a major player in national Republican circles who last year briefly flirted with a presidential run, is returning to lobbying work after serving eight years as Mississippi’s chief executive. Fellow Republican Phil Bryant, who served as lieutenant governor, is being sworn in as governor Tuesday.
This week, the Associated Press reported that Barbour pardoned four convicted killers, including a man who had been denied parole a few days earlier. According to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Barbour during his two terms in office has pardoned a total of eight convicted killers, seven of whom were convicted of murder and one who was convicted of manslaughter.
Barbour has said that granting pardons to the convict trusties who work in the mansion is a decades-old state tradition.
Criticism has come from at least one of the slaying victims’ family members as well as from Democrats. State Rep. Bobby Moak said in a news conference Monday that his fellow Democrats in the Statehouse would introduce a bill that would regulate gubernatorial pardons, the Clarion-Ledger reported. Another planned bill would prevent convicts convicted of capital murder from serving in the white-columned antebellum governor’s mansion.
Five of the eight killers’ victims were either their wives, former wives or girlfriends, according to Clarion-Ledger reporter Jessica Bakeman.