Mike Espy

From Wikispooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Person.png Mike Espy   KeywikiRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Mike Espy 20120223-OCE-RBN-1281 (cropped 2).jpg
BornAlphonso Michael Espy
Yazoo City, Mississippi, U.S.
Alma materHoward University, Santa Clara University
SpousePortia Ballard
Member ofWEF/Global Leaders for Tomorrow/1994
Attended the 1994 Bilderberg as United States Secretary of Agriculture. Took gifts from Tyson Foods.

Employment.png United States Secretary of Agriculture Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
January 22, 1993 - December 31, 1994
Attended the 1994 Bilderberg

Alphonso Michael Espy is an American politician who was the 25th United States Secretary of Agriculture from 1993 to 1994. He was both the first African American and first person from the Deep South to hold the position. A member of the Democratic Party, Espy was previously the U.S. Representative for Mississippi's 2nd congressional district from 1987 to 1993.

In March 2018, Espy announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Thad Cochran. Espy lost in the November 6 nonpartisan special election before facing Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith in a November 27 runoff. Espy was defeated by Hyde-Smith, but garnered more than 46 percent of the vote in what was the closest U.S. Senate election in Mississippi since 1988. He was the Democratic nominee again in the 2020 election, but he lost by ten percentage points against Hyde-Smith in a rematch.

Early life and education

Espy was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi.[1] He is the grandson of Thomas J. Huddleston Sr., founder of the Afro-American Sons and Daughters, a fraternal society that operated the Afro-American Hospital, a leading provider of health care for Black people in the state from the 1920s to the 1970s. Espy attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and was active in student politics, holding several elective positions. He earned his Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law in California in 1978.

Early years

Espy was an attorney with Central Mississippi Legal Services between 1978 and 1980 and was later the Assistant Secretary of State to Mississippi Legal Services. From 1980 to 1984, he was the Assistant Secretary of the State to the Public Lands Division.

Espy was an Assistant State Attorney General from 1984 to 1985.

Congress and Secretary of Agriculture

In November 1986, Espy was elected as a Democrat to the 100th Congress from Template:Ushr. He defeated two-term Republican Webb Franklin to become the first African-American to represent Mississippi at the federal level since Reconstruction.[2] He was reelected three times.

In December 1992, Espy was chosen by President-elect Bill Clinton to be the Secretary of Agriculture in the new administration.[3] Following his confirmation by the Senate in late January 1993, Espy resigned from his seat in the House of Representatives.

The first African American and first person from the Deep South to hold the position,[4] Espy served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1993 to 1994. He announced his resignation in October 1994, following questions from the White House over his use of government perks and acceptance of gifts.[4] He was indicted in 1997 for receiving improper gifts, but acquitted of all 30 charges in 1998.[5]

In October 2007, Espy crossed party lines to endorse Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's reelection campaign.[6]

Private law career

In 2008, Espy became an attorney at Morgan & Morgan, a nationwide law firm, where he handles general plaintiff's law, mass tort, bond and governmental finance, and international relations cases. One of his notable cases was the Pigford lawsuit, where Espy worked in conjunction with a black farmers advocacy group, the National Black Farmers Association, to represent those farmers.

Corruption trial and acquittal

Espy trial

On August 27, 1997, Espy was indicted on charges of receiving improper gifts, including sports tickets, lodging, and airfare. Espy refused to plea bargain and on December 2, 1998, he was acquitted of all 30 criminal charges in the trial. Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz presented more than 70 witnesses during the trial and spent more than $20 million preparing and trying the case.[7]

During testimony before the jury, the prosecution's star witness told Smaltz: "God knows, if I had $30 million, I could find dirt on you, sir."[8] During the trial, Smaltz protested that the defense was injecting race into the trial in what he saw as an appeal to a mostly black jury.

The defense rested without calling any witnesses, arguing simply that the prosecution had not proved its case. The jury deliberated less than 10 hours before finding Espy not guilty on all charges. One of the jurors said, "This was the weakest, most bogus thing I ever saw. I can't believe Mr. Smaltz ever brought this to trial." At least four other jurors echoed this view, though less pointedly.[9] Barbara Bisoni, the only white juror, said Smaltz's case "had holes" and that race never entered into the deliberations.[9]

Related cases

In 1996, Sun-Diamond Growers was fined $1.5 million for giving Espy $6,000 in gifts; in March 1998 it won a reversal at the Court of Appeals level.[10] Independent Counsel Smaltz appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, finding that the gratuities statute requires a link between a gift and an official act. Unable to make such a link, Smaltz dismissed the gratuities charge against Sun-Diamond. The court's unanimous April 1999 opinion, by Justice Antonin Scalia, stated that the prosecutor's interpretation of the law was so broad that even a high school principal could be in legal trouble for giving a souvenir baseball cap to a visiting Secretary of Education.[11] The Sun-Diamond decision played a pivotal role in Espy's later acquittal because Smaltz was unable to link gifts he received to any official act.

In a separate case during the same investigation, Espy's Chief of Staff, Ronald Blackley, was convicted in late 1997 on three counts of making false statements[12] and sentenced to 27 months in prison.[13]

Tyson Foods

Controversy also arose in 1994 from a White House discovery that a foundation run by Tyson Foods had given Espy's then girlfriend, Patricia Dempsey, a $1,200 scholarship.[4] The ruthless Tyson Foods, with many accusations of criminal ties, is intimately connected to Bill Clinton's years in Arkansas. Espy and his lawyer admitted that they deceived the White House,[4] which at first accepted Espy's false claim that he was unaware of the scholarship before it was given to Dempsey.[4] Administration officials said that the discovery of this scholarship was what forced Espy to resign as Secretary of Agriculture.[4] In December 1997, Tyson Foods pleaded guilty to felony charges of giving Espy gifts.[14]


Event Participated in

Bilderberg/19942 June 19945 June 1994Finland
The 42nd Bilderberg, in Helsinki.
Many thanks to our Patrons who cover ~2/3 of our hosting bill. Please join them if you can.