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Scruggs' explanation for the Diaz loan

The Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger reports that Dickie Scruggs backed an $80,000 loan to state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., not to influence Diaz, but to protect him:

In 2000, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce funneled about $1 million into advertisements supporting candidates, never disclosing where the money came from or reporting the contributions, prompting Secretary of State Eric Clark and Attorney General Mike Moore to sue.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the chamber, saying because the advertisements didn't say "vote for" a particular candidate, the ads weren't political and no disclosure was required.

"It was the first time a judge had encountered a media blitz by unknown parties. Frankly, it incensed me," Scruggs said. "It was a political race, and we were trying to prevent the Chamber of Commerce from buying the court."

So there's the distinction -- and probably the reason Scruggs was not indicted. Or maybe, it was that Scruggs cooperated with the prosecutors and cut a deal early. We will see when the trial comes along.

The AP has a similar story today, including this from the president of BIPEC (which somehow stands for Business and Industry Political Action Committee):

Wilcox said BIPEC and other politically active business groups have no qualms about informing voters if a candidate is being supported by the trial lawyers.

"That's part of the political process," he said. "The major political forces not only in Mississippi but in the country, tend to be the trial lawyers and their friends on the one side and the business and professional community on the other," Wilcox said. "What is not always clear to the public is where does the candidate fit into that picture."

Wilcox said corporations are limited in what they give candidates in Mississippi and turn to political action committees and political parties to get their voice to the voters. He said trial lawyers can dig into their personal wealth without limitation to support their candidates.