Jim Hood is a busy man. After 13 years as Mississippi’s attorney general, the Chickasaw County native is well-acquainted with his home state’s strengths and weaknesses and has yet to let his passion for public service die.
Just yesterday, Hood announced Mississippi would receive $1.47 million of a multi-state settlement with General Motors Co. over its failure to acknowledge the installation of faulty ignition switches in 2.1 million autos across the nation, and today, he spoke on campus with a class of Ole Miss students studying governance.
“A lot of hot issues, hot potatoes, are thrown at the attorney general,” Hood said.
Hood seems to be used to the demands of his job now, though. He briefly served as president of the National Association of Attorneys General and said many states deal with the same issues Mississippi faces today. He said attorneys general have a responsibility to use consumer protection laws to, well, protect consumers. On top of the lawsuit against General Motors, Hood has used these laws to target the pharmaceutical industry’s deceitful marketing of opioid products.
“There are companies like the drug companies that prey on economically depressed areas,” Hood said.
Hood said he worries about Mississippi in particular when it comes to maintaining infrastructure in the face of issues like rampant poverty and the ongoing “brain drain” of young scholars leaving the state for better opportunities. He also said the state should be more concerned with fixing potholes than saving money on gas prices.
“We miss so many opportunities, and we are last in so many categories, but we’re first in people,” he said.
And Hood is a big fan of Mississippians. He praised the state’s diversity and said it shouldn’t be too long before tourism overtakes gaming as the state’s top money-earner.
An Ole Miss alumnus, Hood is familiar with Oxford, and his office recently assisted the local Board of Aldermen in its efforts to address the potential relocation of a Confederate solider monument currently standing in the center of the Square. After last month’s town hall debate about the future of this statue, the board wrote to Hood’s office asking about the legality of moving such a statue. The office’s opinion confirmed that the statue could be moved as long as it was moved to a similarly public, county-owned space. Hood endorsed the board’s decision to form a committee dedicated to researching and contextualizing the statue.
“It ought to be up to the local people,” Hood said.
In the midst of the many cultural and financial issues affecting the state, Hood said many residents and legislators are ignoring the big picture and instead focusing on politics.
“We’re down on the floor, playing with marbles and watching the house burn down around us,” Hood said.