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Democrat-aligned organization lobs...

Democrat-aligned organization lobs bombs against Reeves

By: Russ Latino - November 1, 2023
Russ Latino

“The Center for Voter Information’s deeply misleading anti-Reeves mailers are proof positive of what shady organizations can get away with when unrestrained by concern for the truth or run-of-the-mill shame.”

The Center for Voter Information (CVI) wants Mississippians to know a few things before voting. In two mailers sent to Magnolia State residents in the last week, CVI purported to represent the positions of incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves and his Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, on a series of loaded questions.

On each question, Presley emerged the hero. Reeves, the villain.

Only the mailers are complete and utter hogwash. They are proof positive of what shady organizations can get away with when unrestrained by concern for the truth or run-of-the-mill shame.

CVI is a controversial out-of-state organization with deep ties to Democratic causes. In 2019, a leaked memo from a California super PAC which advises donors on ways to support the Democratic Party, recommended CVI as cost-effective organization for producing Democratic votes. CVI has also drawn criticism from left-leaning outlets like Pro Publica for unethical absentee ballot harvesting practices.

The actual letters include a series of claims, whose gall would impress even Pinocchio. Among them:

WELFARE SCANDAL CLAIM: CVI claims that Reeves opposed allowing independent investigation into the TANF welfare scandal exposed during his predecessor’s administration. Former Governor Phil Bryant alerted State Auditor Shad White as to possible TANF spending irregularities at the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) in the summer of 2019, before Reeves was elected to the Office of Governor. Independent investigations have been performed by the State Auditor’s office, the Hinds County District Attorney, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office–all outside the supervision of Reeves. MDHS, which does fall under the purview of Reeves, is currently overseeing civil litigation to recoup funds from individuals who allegedly profited from the illegal scheme. It has named dozens of defendants in an effort to make the state whole.

IN GOD WE TRUST” CLAIM: CVI claims that Reeves opposed having “In God We Trust” on Mississippi’s license plate. Mississippi’s previous stock license plate had a copy of the state seal on it. The state seal contains the phrase “In God We Trust.” In 2022, it was announced that there would be a public competition to design a new license plate. The License Tag Commission, which includes the governor, commissioner of revenue, state treasurer and attorney general, selected a new plate from among hundreds of entrants. The new plate features a magnolia flower in the center instead of the former state seal design. There’s no evidence that the reason the Commission chose this plate was to remove the seal and its included phrase “In God We Trust.”

SCHOOL FUNDING CLAIM: CVI claims that Reeves opposed funding public schools. In the last decade, total funding for public education has increased from $3.18 billion to $4.98 billion in Mississippi. In the last two years, Reeves has signed into law a $246 million teacher pay raise, the largest in state history, and a $100 million increase in funds to go directly to classrooms. The historic level of education spending puts Mississippi’s per student funding above the likes of Arizona, Florida, Idaho, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.

In the last decade, the state has experienced commensurate returns on the investment. Both reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) have improved dramatically, as has Mississippi’s graduation rate, which is now above the national average.

JOB CREATION CLAIM: CVI claims that Reeves was opposed to job creation. Mississippi is currently experiencing its lowest unemployment rate on record. The state’s workforce development efforts, which include the newly formed Accelerate Mississippi, are beginning to be mimicked by other states. There has been over $6 billion in new corporate investments in the state in the last four years. In the same period, per capita income in Mississippi has increased by 18.5%.

RURAL HOSPITALS: CVI claimed that Reeves opposed keeping rural hospitals open. In 2023, Reeves signed into law a bill that would direct $103 million in aid to hospitals, though some technical impediments have slowed the transfer of those funds. He recently announced a plan to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals so that the rates more closely mirror commercial insurance companies. The plan has been projected to net hospitals roughly $700 million if approved by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It has drawn considerable praise from hospital CEOs across the state, including several who stood with Reeves at the time of the announcement. He has also received the endorsement of the Mississippi Medical Association’s PAC.

Despite its history and partisan links, despite deeply misleading framing of the issues and the candidates positions, CVI audaciously concludes its letters with a note saying “we have done our best to represent each candidate in a fair and reasonable way.” Well, their “best” stinks. It’s also disingenuous.

It would be one thing if CVI was transparent about who they are and who they support. They are plainly left-of-center and the pieces are clearly pro-Presley puff. But hiding these things under a thin veneer of “we are just here to be fair and help voters out” is pretty repugnant.

About the Author(s)
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Russ Latino

Russ is a proud Mississippian and the founder of Magnolia Tribune Institute. His research and writing have been published across the country in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, USA Today, The Hill, and The Washington Examiner, among other prominent publications. Russ has served as a national spokesman with outlets like Politico and Bloomberg. He has frequently been called on by both the media and decisionmakers to provide public policy analysis and testimony. In founding Magnolia Tribune Institute, he seeks to build on more than a decade of organizational leadership and communications experience to ensure Mississippians have access to news they can trust and opinion that makes them think deeply. Prior to beginning his non-profit career, Russ practiced business and constitutional law for a decade. Email Russ: