/Frontage road probe Reeves refutes Hood’s findings, pans report as ‘inaccurate and deceptive’

Frontage road probe Reeves refutes Hood’s findings, pans report as ‘inaccurate and deceptive’

In a long, 1,000-word statement released on Thursday afternoon, the Reeves campaign stated that “Democrat Jim Hood abused the office of Attorney General to perform a politically stunt that had been a year in making.” “Just six weeks before the election begins, Hood published a factually incorrect and deceptive Report smearing Tate Reeves — a trick that would make James Comey or Hillary Clinton proud.” Hood initiated an investigation last July into whether Reeves used political pressure on the Mississippi Department of Transportation in order to build a frontage road costing $2 million that would connect Reeves’ gated Flowood neighbourhood to better highway access. Hood published the results of the 14-month-long investigation on Wednesday. He published emails that show that Reeves, through his Senate Staff, initiated conversations about the frontage road with MDOT and asked MDOT officials for information about the project. Reeves and other people refused to cooperate in the investigation according to the attorney general’s report. This made it difficult to discover all the facts without taking legal action. The Reeves campaign stated that Jim Hood did not interview Tate Reeves and his staff on Thursday afternoon. “He denied the opportunity to the people he was threatening to rebut his allegations in person. Jim Hood didn’t want to find the truth so he didn’t ask the question.” The frontage road report’s attorneys wrote that Reeves refused to provide documents from his office or the Senate. The attorney general’s report stated that Reeves refused to give the requested documents. “Dues to this refusal, no interview with the Lieutenant Governor or Senator was requested because it is essential to have the underlaying documents to conduct an examination.” Hood was publicly denied documents by Reeves. He wrote in July 2018 that he had conducted two independent reviews of electronic communications between him and any member of his staff with the Department of Transportation about the frontage roads project. Hood’s report included 15 emails sent to MDOT officials from Reeves’ staff. Reeves’ two staffers sent emails to MDOT staff regarding the frontage road project via their private email accounts and not through state government accounts. Reeves stated that he had provided documents to the investigation when he spoke to the media Friday, the first time the report by the attorney general was made public. This directly contradicts the statement of the attorney general. Reeves stated that he provided all of the information that he requested, but the truth is that there was no such thing. Reeves said that there wasn’t any evidence because he was not involved in the frontage roads. He refused to answer follow-up questions and stated that there wasn’t any new information in his report. He said that he had answered the original questions of the attorney general, but he reiterated that he did not interview the key players in the controversy over the frontage roads. On Thursday, the Reeves campaign revealed who they believe is the attorney general’s confidential informant. He/she provided a lot of testimony to investigators, and was “granted confidential information status to the extent that he/she gave information regarding potential criminal activity.” However, no official state entity, even the attorney general, has confirmed the identity of this informant. Arnemann did not respond to our requests for comment this week. According to the confidential informant, he felt “influenced” by the Lt. The informant said that Governor used his position to get the frontage roads, and that he felt “influenced” by the Lt. Investigators were also told by the informant that “the Lieutenant. Investigators were also told by the informant that “the Lt. Governor was actively participating” through his staff in frontage road planning, and that Reeves’ claim that he didn’t know anything about the project was false. Hood received donations from the Mississippi Asphalt Pavement Association (which Arnemann manages), as well as more than a dozen interest groups representing road builders. Hood was suggested by the Reeves campaign that Arnemann had disclosed information to Hood for political purposes. “What discussions had Hood had with the Asphalt PAC and their lobbyist Michael Arnemann regarding this report and/or coordinated campaigns activity and donations?” Reeves’ campaign stated in Thursday’s statement to reporters. It listed the following: “Questions That Must Be Answered.” The Frontage Road-Attorney Generals Office (Text) On Thursday, the Reeves campaign released a three minute YouTube video. Interviews were conducted in-house with Gary Rhoads, the Flowood mayor, and Gary Herring (reeves’ neighbor in Flowood). Both men are Reeves campaign donors. They maintained that Reeves was not involved in the design of the frontage road project. Rhoads tells a story of a woman who was involved in an accident at the intersection of Lakeland Drive and Flowood in 2013. This happened four years before the highway’s length was increased from four to six lanes. Also shown in the video is a July 2018 news clip from Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall, who said he supported the project “for safety purposes.” Mississippi Today obtained emails last year that showed MDOT employees decrying the frontage road project’s design despite the fact that the intersection was not up to safety standards. Attorney general investigators were told the same thing by several MDOT officials. According to the report by the attorney general, MDOT has nine separate warrants or tests that must be completed before any traffic improvement can be implemented. Most of them are volume-based. They also consider accidents in the area, and whether a signal will improve traffic flow. This is based on engineering judgment. The state spent $463,000 to purchase plans and right-of way for the frontage road. MDOT officials worked 1,740 hours on it before it was shut down in July 2018. Construction was estimated to cost $2million. Hood’s Wednesday report suggested that Reeves may have violated the state Constitution’s ethics clause, which prohibits public officials from making personal financial gains. Hood’s office stated in its Wednesday report, “I will not pursue any civil action against anyone involved.” In the Nov. 5 election to be attorney general, Republican Lynn Fitch will face Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins. Bobby Harrison