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Mississippi attorney general seeks more wiretap authority

JACKSON — Fourth-term Attorney General Jim Hood says he’s asking Mississippi lawmakers to give his office the power to do wiretaps to investigate human trafficking and white-collar crime.

The wiretap authority is one of several requests the Democrat is making this year to the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Hood said Wednesday that during last year’s campaign, his Republican opponent frequently criticized him for not prosecuting high-profile public corruption cases. Hood said because his office can only do wiretaps for drug cases, many corruption investigations have been led by federal authorities.

“The way you make a white-collar crime case is either you’ve got an insider or you’ve got a wiretap,” Hood said. “That’s what you’ve got to have.”

He said prosecuting public corruption cases can still be difficult in state court because the jury is drawn from local people who might know the person on trial.

“We will continue, even if we’ve got wiretap authority, to work with federal authorities in cases where we think we might have a problem with the jury,” Hood said.

Hood — the only Democrat left in statewide office — also is working with Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann to try to tighten some campaign laws. They propose requiring candidates to disclose details about campaigns’ credit-card purchases. They also seek to require more detailed disclaimers about who buys political advertising.

Hood also said he wants legislators to clarify election laws to show that the place a voter files homestead exemption establishes a “strong but rebuttable presumption of residency.”

Hood is seeking state money for programs to help inmates learn job skills as they leave prison.

He’s also asking legislators to create a new crime called indecent assault upon a competent adult, which could be used to prosecute someone for groping another person.

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