Corruption stinks up local elections

Published 7:19pm Saturday, July 23, 2011

In less than 10 days, Adams County voters will head to the polls and hopefully end a little bit of the political madness currently permeating the air.

The election insanity happens every election season. Rumors fly and crazy antics abound.

Rumors are perhaps among the most troubling and damaging of the shenanigans. Of course, the best option is simply not to believe something unless you can prove it to be true. Our newsroom staff works through some of the rumors to determine what might be true, publishable and of interest and help to voters.

While much of the rumor-mongering can be damaging and hurtful to the individual candidates, other behavior often seen during an election year can be downright troubling not to the individual, but to large groups of our community.

A decade or so ago a former minister of a prominent Natchez church with a mostly black congregation came by the office to talk about a disturbing election practice that he’d seen for years in the community — vote buying and influencing by local church leaders.

This minister was disgusted by the practice and thought it was destructive — to the community, to the election process and to the churches.

As we sat and talked, the minister described how it was done. Money is passed down through the ranks from the vote-getting kingpin to the ministers and to others all the way down to the folks willing to lay down their vote for a meager payment.

Some ministers reportedly will even seek to lobby candidates to drop out of the race, presumably to make the way easier for the candidate whose supporters are willing to pay the highest price.

If the stakes were not so high, some of the practices would be comical. For example, a couple of years ago in a Wilkinson County voter fraud case, a person testified they were paid with a hamburger.

It’s sad that such nonsense goes on with something as important as the privilege of casting one’s vote and helping to shape our government.

Although the practice seems more open and more connected to church leaders in the black community, the same kind of vote swaying/buying may go on in the white community, too. Corruption is colorblind, though I’ve never heard a white minister openly support a local candidate.

The subject of how politics and religion mix in the South — particularly in the black community — is one that is widely known, and its causes easy to understand.

Quite simply prior to more modern, post-Civil Rights Era times, the church was among a few rare places that black citizens could speak with one another without raising suspicion and threat of violence from hate groups.

The church was a sanctuary from the oppressive, racist world outside.

Unfortunately, what began as a well-meaning practice — even a necessity — became corrupted at some point. Rather than gathering together for the sake of their own causes in a united manner, when cash was introduced into the mix, well, things got ugly fast.

The New Testament has a good lesson for us all about the moneychangers in the church and how Jesus dealt with them.

I hope and pray that one day soon we can get rid of some of the more ugly aspects of voting in our system.

Putting an end to the so-called men of God using their influence over their congregations for personal monetary and political gain would be at the top of my list.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

  • Anonymous

    Amen, brother.

  • Anonymous

    Very good article. Your hopes are mine….but will our dream ever emerge from the bottomless pit of ignorance.

  • Anonymous

    What makes this practice even worse is that it takes advantage of poor people. People that would sell their vote for a meager sum of money, or a hamburger, are living in difficult circumstances.

  • Anonymous

    I FEEL YOUR PAIN; IT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR A LONG LONG TIME. SO-CALL-MEN-OF-GOD; IS NO MORE OR LESS THAN HUMAN. MANY LOOK UP TO THEM AS GOD; THAT’S WHERE THE CONTROL STARTS. THE BELIEF IS IN THE HEART. SO MANY HAVE FALLEN VICTIMS. WHEN MAN CONTROL YOU, YOU ARE NO LONGER YOU, YOU BELONG TO HIM. YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR COMMON SENSE IN TACT, REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU ARE INVOLVE IN.   

  • Anonymous

    ??????? What the devil did you say? Quit typing in all caps and try, really try to make sense.

  • Anonymous

    If what was said in this article is true, is it possible that 78% might be an incorrect number when refering to the percentage of voters that actually want a new recreation complex? How many of those votes may have been “bought”? Tax increases hang in the balance concerning this project. Perhaps that should be on the ballot. “Are you willing to have your taxes increased to fund a recreation complex?” Would a free hamburger sway someone to vote for a tax increase?

  • Anonymous

    All voters do not pay taxes…………..yep, it could.

  • Anonymous

    A person attempting to vote without proper ID will likely just be turned around, not sent up!

  • Anonymous

    Well said, Scott.

    I held out for fries and eventually voted “no”.

    Now the point is moot.

    I should have taken the burger.

  • Anonymous

    LOL to whatever you said.

  • Anonymous

    Sir, your article show a practice of giving up a right that has been paid for in blood and prays. I often hear the saying ”Freedom is not Free” and that is true.
    We need to be remind that we owe those individuals our lives. The right to vote is the constitution, but we( Africa-America, Black-America) had to fight again.
    I am a product of the those Prays and courage. I make it my personal right to Vote for the candidate and look at his (her) actions before the election and after.

  • Anonymous

    DANG. 1 BURGER?   YOU SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN THE WHOLE DANG FARM…..Might as well sell your soul to the DEVIL/////.Throwing away something wsa fought for by blood, sweat, tears and PRAYER .

    Men of the Cloth…. Many are WOLVES IN SHEEP CLOTHING.   They don’t see signs and wonders, they see SIGNS OF DOLLARS AND CENTS…REMEMBER THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR FLOCKS, YET WE ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR OURSELVES. We must distinguish between the COLLARS.  By this I mean the RELIGIOUS COLLAR. and the DOG COLLAR.  NOT THE DOLLAR COLLAR……
    BUCKLE UP NATCHEZ…. You might get sold out and don’t know it

  • Anonymous

    That is a scary thought, isn’t it? It would be nice to see Mr. Cooper follow up on this story. On second thought, it would be nice to see the proper law enforcement agency follow up on this. I have heard it said that when a country gets to where the people can vote themselves money, then the country is near it’s end. The same could apply for a county or city, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    This has been happening in the black community for years black ministers taking money from white candidates running for office  promising they can persuade their congregation to vote the way they want them to. The only way to stop it is have a candidate with a body wire on to tape record one of them with the attorney generals office in charge, arrest them and have them prosecuted  to the fullest extent of the law. Start the investigation , it’s happening now.  These” slick” preachers should be exposed and dismissed from their churches. 

  • Anonymous

    What about the politicians who knowingly attempt to buy votes?  Aren’t we equally disgusted by that? P.S. Whether it is a “southern” practice or not, churches who engage in partisan politics should lose their tax exempt status – black or white.

  • Anonymous

    What do we call politicians who knowingly attempt to “buy” votes? Aren’t we as offended by the politicians who do this as the churches who accept the money? The problem is not just with the churches.  A “southern” practice or not, churches (black or white) should not be involved in partisan politics and retain their tax exempt status.

  • Anonymous

    The proper agency to stop it , is the attorney generals office. black ministers get this money from white candidates every election. White people must realize no black minister can guarantee you black vote. The congregation should dismiss these kind of ministers. I am advising white candidates when one approaches yoo have a recording device & record them, and have them arrested.

  • Anonymous

    When we arrest one of these so-called preachers, it will stop. Let the investigations began.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, they should lose their tax exempt status but they never will.  When every other Democrat shill organization masquerading as a non-profit loses their tax-exempt status, I might think differently but that isn’t going to happen, either.  About the only way I can figure to get it stopped is for the right to start doing it in spades.  Only then will it be seen as “bad” by the PTB.

  • Anonymous

    I have made a mistake. I have opened my mouse and put my foot in it.  When I first commented on this article I mentioned the recreation initiative and the 78% vote in favor of recreation.  I want to make it clear to all of the recreation council members and all other volunteers associated with recreation that I, in no way, was refering to any of them.  I did not think that the rec. council had even been formed at the time of the public vote and even though I did not mention the recreation council or any other volunteers in my previous comments, I want to be sure that they know that I, in no way, am implying that any of them have ever been involved in vote buying or selling. Mr. cooper did not mention anything about recreation in his article and I should not have mentioned it in my comments. I know several of the members on the rec. council and I know that they have put a lot of work and effort into coming up with plans and recommendations to present to the public and our elected officials.  The fact that they are willing to deal with four different entities; the supervisors, the aldermen and mayor, the school board and the general public attests to their commitment to our city and county.  All or these people are volunteers and have the best interest of our community at heart.  After all, this is their home also.  Since my comments were not annonymous, it allowed someone, who I like to think of as a friend, to point out the error I made and I hope that I have corrected that error in some part.  Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    You may want to change your screen name to something anonymous, otherwise, next call will be from one of the BOS. I do not think your comment was out of bounds, the public group reps just have thin skin and do not realize even friends may have a different opinion from theirs. If they are that shallow, you may want to check your friend list again.

  • Anonymous

    “Democrat shill organization” puzzles me. Are you asserting that black churches are “democrat shill organizations” or that black = Democrat? What about the very publicly stated views of the Catholic church on many issues? Would you call that church a “republican shill organization” if they were predominately white?