Arledge again top spender in judge race

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 11, 2002

3 of 5 candidates cite contributions

[10/10/02]Candidates for Warren County judge increased their spending sharply during July, August and September, reports required by Thursday showed.

The spending leader remained Robert C. Arledge, 45, whose forms showed expenses nearly doubling from the previous report from $94,015 to $174,868. His largest outlay was to a billboard company, Lamar Advertising, for $26,000 this period and $56,000 total.

The campaigns of William Bost Jr., 57, incumbent Gerald Hosemann, 50, current Warren County Prosecutor Johnny Price, 56, and Clarence A. Whitaker, 59, also reported large increases in their spending.

Bost’s total was $15,330; Price’s $16,414; and Whitaker’s, $3,911. Spending reported by Hosemann’s campaign, $3,783, was the first it has reported.

The reports due Thursday were the fourth of five state law requires from each candidate before the Nov. 5 election, and the first since July 10. They cover three months, and the idea is to give voters a clear picture of where candidates are getting and spending money. Complete reports may be viewed in the Warren County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

Arledge’s campaign again reported no contributions from anyone other than the candidate, and reported a cash balance of $14,099. He has said he’s willing to take donations, but willing to finance his own campaign to assure independence.

Of his new spending, $13,702 was paid to 25 individuals for canvassing, including $710 to former Central District Constable J.L. Mitchell and $700 to Roy Tillman, who is running for Mitchell’s former position.

Mitchell resigned in July as part of a plea agreement on a felony extortion charge, creating the need for a special election for his former job. That election is also to be held Nov. 5, and six candidates have qualified. Their first campaign-finance reports are due Oct. 29.

Arledge’s campaign also reported further expenditures on advertising of $52,052; campaign-management fees, of $10,782; supplies and meals, of $1,392, including $1,130 to former Warren County Sheriff Paul Barrett who has provided radio and TV ad endorsements.

Bost’s campaign reported borrowing $10,513, receiving $1,300 in contributions from four individuals and having $1,463 on hand. Of its reported spending during the period, 83 percent was apparently on print and radio advertising, printing and signs, with $3,799 going to The Vicksburg Post, $6,641 to three local radio stations and $1,805 to three printing and sign companies.

Hosemann’s campaign reported contributions totaling $9,130 and having $5,347 on hand. It itemized only two contributions, however, one from Hosemann for $4,530 and another from his brother and campaign manager, David Hosemann, for $500. About 78 percent of its reported spending was apparently on advertising, printing and the like, with $1,738 going to The Vicksburg Post, and $1,195 to printing and materials businesses.

Price’s campaign reported receiving contributions of $7,000 from his own funds and a total of $1,500 from two other individuals, and having $5,045 on hand. Of its itemized spending, about 90 percent apparently went for print advertising, signs and T-shirts, with $5,753 going to The Vicksburg Post, $5,654 going to three print and advertising companies and $835.30 to two hardware and supply stores.

Whitaker’s campaign reported receiving no contributions during the period and having $1,018.56 on hand. All of its spending was listed as being on print advertising, signs, cards and bumper stickers, with $820 going to The Vicksburg Post and $315 to The New Times newspaper.

Candidates are required by the state to list those who give to or receive from election accounts more than a total of $200 during any one year. The annual campaign-contribution limit for individuals and political committees is $2,500 for county court races.

The last pre-election reports are due Oct. 29.

Unless one candidate in the race receives a majority of votes cast Nov. 5, a runoff will be necessary and would be scheduled for Nov. 19. A pre-runoff report would then be due Nov. 12.

Local lawyers shun Arledge

[10/10/02]Warren County Bar Association members have taken a vote among themselves to say judicial candidate Robert Arledge is not qualified for the job, the bar’s president said Thursday.

Arledge, 45, is an attorney who lives in Vicksburg, but is not a member of the local association, said David Sessums who presided as the vote was taken. Specific reasons were not listed.

Arledge and four others, William Bost Jr., 57; incumbent Gerald Hosemann, 50; Warren County Prosecutor Johnny Price, 56; and Clarence A. Whitaker, 59, are candidates for Warren County judge in the Nov. 5 election.

Arledge responded, saying the local bar had already stated its position on his candidacy, and that it was “a non-issue” as far as he was concerned.

“The requirements for holding judicial office are not that you have sufficient experience in Warren County,” Arledge said. “In fact, the fact that my practice has been on a national and regional scale gives me an advantage because I’m not part of the courthouse crowd, the clique. Because of that fact, together with the fact that I am financing my own campaign, gives me the ability to be truly fair and impartial.”

While membership in the state bar association is required to be licensed, membership in the county association is optional, Sessums said.

“The motion was made, seconded, discussed and passed by majority vote” at the bar association’s regular monthly meeting on Sept. 30, Sessums said. The local bar did not endorse any candidate and has not in the past.

Many members of the Warren County Bar Association said they had not met Arledge, Sessums said. He added that he did not know if Arledge had ever had an office or tried a case in Warren County.

Arledge said he has an office in Vicksburg and intends to maintain it even if he does not win the election. He said he had acted as co-counsel in several cases in the county.

“My candidacy is the first time anyone can remember,” Arledge said, “when the people of Warren County truly have a voice in the selection of their judge without the pool of candidates having been dictated to them by a small minority of local lawyers.”

Arledge added that, even though he attended college and practiced law briefly in Louisiana and based his practice in Jackson from 1995 to this year, he has lived here virtually his entire life and intends to stay.

About 75 lawyers live in Vicksburg, others of whom are also not members of the local bar association, Sessums said.