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Mississippi Sen. Candidate Mike Espy’s Ethical Issues Embarrassing Even for Clintons

‘The resignation is a personal disgrace and a profound setback…’

Mike Espy/IMAGE: MSNBC via Youtube

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Between them in their respective political careers, Bill and Hillary Clinton have amassed an impressive—and depressive—list of scandals, most of which they have been able to weather largely unscathed.

So, just what would it take for the Clintons to ask one of their top-level staffers to resign over an ethical scandal? Where is the fine red line between “what difference does it make” and indefensibly verboten?

To know, you might have to ask former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, now locked in a contentious bid to become the first black Senator from Mississippi since the post-Civil-War Reconstruction era.

Voters in the Magnolia State will go to the polls Tuesday to choose between the two top finishers in the Nov. 6 special election to replace retired Sen. Thad Cochran. Espy, a Democrat, faces Cindy Hyde-Smith, who has been filling in since Cochran retired in the spring.

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The national press zeroing in on the last big race of the current campaign season has devoted much of its coverage to attacking Hyde-Smith over a pair of gaffes in which she joked about attending a public hanging and about making it more difficult for college students to vote.

The Washington Post condescendingly opined that Hyde-Smith’s statements had been a setback for all Mississippians, who desperately yearned to raise their profile in the eyes of the other states.

“Mississippi often finds itself the butt of jokes aiming to make the point that the Magnolia State has not advanced at the same pace as the rest of the United States—or even the South,” said The Post.

Scandals notwithstanding, Hyde-Smith remained heavily favored to win on Tuesday.

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“Democrats’ inability to come close is in large part because they can’t win over white voters in the state,” moaned CNN. “Mississippi voters are highly polarized along racial lines.”

Remarkably, the implication would seem to be that electing Espy is the deep-red state’s only hope for recovering its good name.

Unless, of course, Espy forgets the lessons he learned in 1994. Just prior to the midterms 24 years ago, he was forced out of the Clinton cabinet for accepting freebies from companies, such as tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bulls, and using taxpayer revenue to cover his personal Jeep Cherokee, reported the Chicago Tribune.

“But the last straw for the White House was the discovery that Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc., the nation’s largest poultry producer, had given a $1,200 scholarship to his girlfriend,” it said.

Clintons, Michelle Obama Planning Rock Star-Like Arena Tours after Midterms 1
Hillary and Bill Clinton/IMAGE: Fox Business via Youtube

With little inkling of what lay ahead for the Clintons, the Tribune wrote, “True, this administration hasn’t suffered from the likes of a Watergate or an Irangate, but, almost from the beginning, it has been plagued by ethical questions … [and] dogged by the perception of being a loosely run, sloppy ship.”

The Tribune did not let Espy off the hook quite so easily, saying that “the resignation is a personal disgrace and a profound setback.”

Indeed, it may have seemed at the time like an indelible blight that would forever mar the otherwise stainless Clinton White House: “For the administration—even though Espy is the only Cabinet member so far to resign because of suspicious conduct … it renews questions about Clinton’s commitment to his campaign promise to change government and operate under a higher standard of conduct.”

Whether a quarter-century  has helped instill such a higher standard in Espy’s personal code, only time may tell. But one thing that is unchanged is his ambition. The Tribune pinned Espy’s downfall, in a way, on his political aspirations.

“Mike Espy’s greatest weaknesses, it appears, were a passion for sports,” said the paper, “an ambition to be a Mississippi senator or governor and an inability to remember that he was no longer a member of Congress, where taking advantage of freebies and perks and hobnobbing with special interests is a way of life.”

Although the Trump administration has dealt with similar situations—notably the forced resignation of former EPA chief Scott Pruitt for his excessive use of travel and workplace perks, one sign of the times is that the ethics scandals by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat who narrowly lost the Florida gubernatorial race, caused nary a ripple in today’s legacy media.

Should he fail to become the first black Mississippian in the Senate since Reconstruction, at least Espy will still hold onto one title that is unlikely to fade anytime soon, as one of the few Democrats—if not the only one—ever to be held accountable to the Left’s “higher standard of conduct.”

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