RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Gibson writes: "What kind of message does it send to the biggest banks that the top attorney for one of the world's largest economies is too afraid to take them to court after those banks swindled that country out of trillions of dollars?"

Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood. (photo: Rogelia V. Solis/AP)
Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood. (photo: Rogelia V. Solis/AP)

Jim Hood: An Attorney General Who Would Jail the Bankers

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

25 September 14


hat kind of message does it send to the biggest banks that the top attorney for one of the world’s largest economies is too afraid to take them to court after those banks swindled that country out of trillions of dollars? While Eric Holder’s legal action against states passing laws encouraging voter suppression are to be commended, he’s been nothing but a disappointment in attaining justice for the victims of the biggest banks. The next U.S. attorney general should be one who has a long track record of standing up for homeowners, consumers, and victims of fraud. We need a top lawyer who’s gone after big oil, big pharma, big insurance, and big banks. That person is Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood.

In June of 2012, Hood sued JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Capital One, HSBC, and Discover for slamming Mississippians with monthly fees on additional programs they had unintentionally signed up for when applying for identity theft protection on those banks’ cards. According to court documents, customers were bullied into taking on the additional charges through deceptive mail, misleading telemarketing calls, and sometimes even being signed up for programs without any contact whatsoever from the bank. Unfortunately, the federal judge in Mississippi’s Southern District dismissed Hood’s suit against the banks. But imagine what Hood could do to the banks if he were equipped with the Department of Justice’s armies of lawyers.

In June of this year, Hood filed a lawsuit against the Experian credit reporting company on behalf of Mississippians. Hood alleged that Experian had mixed up the identities of consumers, and reported customers’ charges as late or still owing when they had already paid their debts. Hood is demanding an undisclosed amount for punitive damages, alleging Experian knowingly violated consumer protection laws and fair credit reporting laws. The suit is currently awaiting action in federal court. However, if Hood were confirmed as U.S. attorney general, he could work hand-in-hand with consumer advocates like Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray and Senator Elizabeth Warren to seek justice for Experian’s customers across the nation.

Jim Hood has a track record of commitment not only to victims of financial fraud, but of insurance fraud. Not long after his first election, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. While most of the media paid attention to the extreme loss of life in New Orleans and the oil-soaked wetlands of Southern Louisiana, large segments of Mississippi’s coastal cities like Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, and Long Beach were completely wiped out.

When insurance companies were intentionally denying claims from homeowners and business owners in those towns, Hood said they were “... in lockstep like Nazis locking arms, coming at those people down there on the coast.” State Farm eventually agreed to pay $80 million to 600 policyholders who sued the company for refusing to cover Katrina damage, and another $50 million for policyholders who had their claims denied but didn’t sue. However, a county judge in Mississippi threw out Hood’s lawsuits against big insurers in 2009 after claiming he had no standing to bring the suit, since the insurance claims were private contracts between the companies and the policyholders. However, if Hood’s lawsuits against predatory insurance companies were backed by the legal arm of the U.S. government, survivors of natural disasters all over the nation would have a reliable ally in Washington.

After BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Hood was responsible for keeping the oil company honest in paying out claims. Hood alleged that the $20 billion escrow fund BP had trusted to Kenneth Feinberg, an independent manager, was full of “... sweeping deficiencies and violations of law,” and required federal oversight. Hood used the fund’s own documents to prove that only a “paltry” amount had been paid to claim filers since the fund’s inception, and favored BP’s interests over the interests of those who had filed claims.

Additionally, Hood defended Mississippians hoodwinked by BP in the immediate aftermath of the oil spill by saying the company’s hush payments were illegal. Hood alleged BP made victims of the spill sign documents granting individuals $5,000 and businesses $25,000 in immediate payments if they voided their right to sue in the future. Hood argued the 200,000 people who signed the documents still have the right to sue, as they were not in a position to wait for a proper settlement from the courts and were forced to accept immediate cash to maintain their homes and businesses. Thanks partially to Hood’s call for federal intervention, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this past June that BP must fully pay out all claims, even the ones currently disputed in appeals court.

Big pharmaceutical companies would also have a lot to fear from Jim Hood’s confirmation as attorney general. One afternoon in 2010, when I still covered the state capitol for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Hood called the media into his office to announce an $18 million settlement against pharmaceutical kingpin Eli Lilly, for misleading consumers about ailments the drug Zyprexa could be used to cure. The announcement came on the tail end of a 4-year-long legal battle that had just been made public that day. Thanks to Hood’s lawsuit, Mississippi and 12 other states that sued recovered the settlement through their divisions of Medicaid, which helped more low-income families have access to healthcare.

If Obama were to pick Hood as the next U.S. attorney general, he would be unburdened by the local Mississippi judges that threw out his lawsuits against the big insurers and big banks. If Jim Hood had the legal arm of the U.S. government behind him, the DOJ wouldn’t just secure slap-on-the-wrist settlements from criminal banking enterprises like AG Holder did for Chase’s fraudulent mortgage practices and HSBC’s money laundering for drug cartels. Jim Hood might just be the first U.S. attorney general to put bankers in jail. As the top lawyer for the United States, Hood would have access to consult with attorneys in Iceland, who helped jail the bankers who caused their financial crisis and saw their economy grow as a result.

The Obama administration is still scanning the field for potential attorneys general. Let’s point him in the right direction by rallying behind Jim Hood. Sign this petition for Obama to pick Hood as Eric Holder’s successor, and for the U.S. Senate to confirm him with haste. We deserve an AG who won’t bow down to corporate special interests, and who works exclusively for the people.

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.