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Ashton Pittman

Stories by Ashton

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Governor Attempts to Ban Mississippi Abortions, Citing Need to Preserve PPE

Gov. Tate Reeves says he is halting abortions in Mississippi to help free up personal protective equipment for hospitals to use as they deal with an escalating number of COVID-19 cases statewide.

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Rep. Palazzo: Rural Hospitals ‘On Brink’ of ‘Collapse,’ Need Relief Amid Pandemic

Congress must assist rural hospitals in its upcoming bill aimed at blunting the economic devastation the coronavirus has wrought, Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo wrote in a letter to top U.S. House leaders on Tuesday.

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Two Mississippi Congressmen Skip Vote on COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill

Two Republican Mississippi Congressmen, U.S. Reps. Steven Palazzo and Trent Kelly, did not show up for a vote on the #FamiliesFirst Coronavirus Response Act.

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'Do Not Go to Church': Three Forrest County Coronavirus Cases Bring Warnings

The Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed two more cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in Mississippi this morning. All three known patients currently reside in Forrest County.

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'An Abortion Desert': Mississippi Women May Feel Effect of Louisiana Case

A Louisiana abortion law would turn the Bayou State into "an abortion desert" and would have strong ripple effects for women in Mississippi and other states across the country, opponents say. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case Wednesday.

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The TANF Players

Since the last issue, a huge corruption scandal hit Mississippi with allegations of theft inside a State agency working with prominent Mississippians, Republican donors and former pro wrestlers. Here are the major accused players.

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GOP Wants to Override Jackson's Abortion Clinic 'Buffer Zone' Law

Jackson's medical facility "buffer zone" law, which minimizes protest activities in the immediate vicinity of the state's only abortion clinic, may be short-lived if a Republicans bill in the Mississippi Legislature becomes law.

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'Sprawling Conspiracy' Ensnares Voucher Beneficiaries, Republican Donors

At least two people who donated significant sums to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves' campaign allegedly engaged in what the state's top elected official calls a "disgusting abuse of power."

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New Republican Legislator Resigns Under Pressure from Speaker Gunn

Mississippi House Rep. Ramona Blackledge, the Republican woman whom Jones County voters sent to Jackson to represent them in the Mississippi House of Representatives, is resigning just weeks into her term.

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Poll: Mississippians Back Medicaid Expansion, Hyde-Smith ‘Flailing’

"Given her flailing approval rating, it is no surprise that Senator Hyde-Smith is in an already tightening race with Mike Espy," Espy Campaign Manager Joe O'Hern said. "Whether it is Senator Hyde-Smith's disturbing comments about public hangings, her open support for voter suppression at the 'other' universities, her clear track record of hyper-partisanship in the Senate or her D.C. insider ambitions, these approval numbers are a clear sign that Mississippians are looking for change and are unhappy with Cindy Hyde-Smith as their senator."

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State's Payments to CoreCivic for Housing Inmates at Private Prison May Exceed Legal Limits

Mississippi's emergency contract with a private prison corporation to house 375 inmates could exceed legal limits even more than previously known.

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No Reconsideration for 15-Week Abortion Ban Ruling, 5th Circuit Tells Mississippi

A federal court decision that struck down Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban will stand for now.

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Physicians Push Back on Medical Marijuana Opposition in Mississippi

A number of state Mississippi physicians are pushing back after the State Board of Health decried a push to legalize medical marijuana.

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Mississippi U.S. Reps Face Challenges from the Left and the Right in 2020

A University of Mississippi law professor and self-described "Democratic socialist" is challenging her district's U.S. House representative, Republican Trent Kelly, in this year's election.

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Lawmaker Who Called for Lynching of Confederate Statue Foes Elevated

In 2017, Mississippi House Rep. Karl Oliver wrote that Louisiana leaders ought to be "LYNCHED" for removing Confederate monuments. On Jan. 8, House Speaker Philip Gunn made him vice chair of the powerful appropriations committee.

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MDOC Hits ‘Breaking Point’

Inmate deaths are not a new phenomenon in Mississippi. Some family members and activist organizations, like the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, have pointed to a lack of funding to explain rising prison violence.

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Hyde-Smith, Wicker 'Gunning to End Roe': Ask High Court to Overturn

Mississippi's two U.S. senators, Republicans Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider overturning its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.

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Mississippi Prison Deaths Follow Warnings of Meager Funding, Shortages

Three more Mississippi prisoners have died at the hands of other inmates in the six days since the Mississippi Department of Corrections initiated a statewide prison lockdown last Sunday, bringing the week's death toll to four.

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Hood Wants 15-week Abortion Ban Appeal Reconsidered by Full 5th Circuit

Mississippi wants a redo after a federal appeals court struck down its 2018 law that bans women from having abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a motion asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to reconsider the law's constitutionality on Dec. 27.

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Hyde-Smith Bill Targets Medication Abortions with 'SAVE Moms and Babies Act'

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is joining other anti-abortion politicians who are increasingly prioritizing legislative efforts designed to restrict access to federally approved abortion medication.

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Abortion Inches Closer to Supreme Court

Earlier this year, Mississippi House Rep. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, told the Jackson Free Press that part of the goal of bills like the heartbeat bill and the 15-week ban is to get a case to the Supreme Court.

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'Evict Gangsterism': State Dems Praise Impeachment as GOP Backs Trump

President Donald Trump's "overt gangsterism" made his impeachment necessary, Mississippi Democrat Jacqueline Amos said in a statement the day after only one member of Mississippi's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve articles of impeachment.

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Entire Affordable Care Act May Be Invalid With Mandate Gone, Court Says

A three-judge panel in New Orleans wants a lower court to decide whether or not the entire Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature achievement, should be struck down.

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Medicaid Expansion 'On the Table,' Says Incoming Lt. Gov. Hosemann

The Mississippi Senate could still expand Medicaid access to as many as 300,000 residents who currently have no health-care access, Delbert Hosemann, the State's incoming lieutenant governor, told members of the press Tuesday.

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Curtis Flowers Released on Bail from Parchman for First Time Since 1997

Curits Flowers will leave Mississippi's Parchman prison and return home for the first time in more than two decades after Montgomery County Circuit Judge Joseph Loper granted him a $250,000 bail on Monday morning.

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Espy: Hyde-Smith Betrays 'Sacred Oath' With Vow to Protect Trump at Trial

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is failing to uphold her "sacred oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law in this country" with her vow to protect President Donald Trump from impeachment, potential Democratic opponent Mike Espy claimed in an email missive to supporters on Dec. 12.

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Report: Mississippi Charter Schools Improve Grades, Need Changes

Three charter schools in Jackson raised their grades over the past year, a new legislative PEER committee report found. Still, the report recommended changes by the board that oversees charter schools in Mississippi.

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White GOP Rep Who Lost to Black Dem Wants Election Overturned

A white woman who lost her Mississippi House of Representatives seat to a black woman challenger is asking the Republican-dominated body to overturn the election results.

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Koch-Funded ‘Bill Mill’ ALEC Names Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn National Chairman

When he resumes his leadership at the Legislature in 2020, Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn will also serve as the new national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that pushes corporate-friendly and anti-public-education legislation in state houses across the nation. The right-wing billionaire Koch family, an assortment of lobbyists, corporations and wealthy donors fund ALEC.

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Trent Lott Ties, Civil Rights Rulings Plague Trump Judge Pick from Mississippi

An embattled Mississippi judge's nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans faces opposition from civil rights groups that claim he has a poor record on issues involving race and sexual assault—and from conservatives who claim he is not conservative enough.

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A New Dynamic: Shanda Yates’ Surprise Victory

Shanda Yates had never thought about running for office and had a litany of reasons not to pursue the House District 64 seat when she first discussed the idea with her husband, Yancy Burns, her partner at their firm, Burns & Associates PLLC.

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Wicker Defends Trump, Boosting Russian Ploy to Pin 2016 Attacks on Ukraine

Mississippi's senior U.S. senator, Roger Wicker, claimed in an interview on Sunday that he saw no "direct evidence" that President Donald Trump did anything wrong when he pressured Ukraine to open investigations into former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

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How 'Sister District' Helped Shanda Yates Unseat Longtime Mississippi Republican

Sister District, a California-based group dedicated to helping elect Democrats in state legislatures across the country, helped one Jackson area political newcomer unseat a longtime Republican incumbent.

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'Extreme' Prison Terms Must Be Focus for New Mississippi Leaders, Reformers Say

Mississippi's incoming class of statewide and legislative leaders should prioritize reducing "extremely" long prison sentences, a national bipartisan criminal-justice reform organizations says.

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It's Official: Dem Shanda Yates Ousts 32-Year Republican in Mississippi House

Shanda Yates, a 38-year-old Jackson-area attorney, has ousted Billy Denny, a top Republican in the Mississippi House of Representatives who first won his seat in 1987—when Yates was just 6 years old.

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Trump's Tupelo Visit Boosted Dems More Than GOP in Northeast Mississippi, Strategist Says

President Donald Trump's visit to Tupelo earlier this month may have helped Mississippi Democrats more than Republicans in this year's state elections, Chism Strategies, one of the state's top polling and political strategy firms, says.

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Hyde-Smith Blocks Gun Checks as School Shooting Unfolds in California

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, an NRA-endorsed Republican, blocked a universal background-checks bill this morning around the same time a teenage gunman in Santa Clarita, Calif., carried out a mass shooting at his high school.

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God Save the Governor: Phil Bryant, Brexit Soldier

Republican Phil Bryant is certainly not the first Mississippi governor to support a state's plan to secede from a multi-state union. ... But Bryant seems to be the first to entangle himself in a foreign U.S. ally's own secession effort.

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Mike Espy Vows to 'Correct Our Mistakes' in New U.S. Senate Campaign

Democrat Mike Espy has a plan to win in Mississippi, he told the Jackson Free Press Tuesday morning, soon after officially launching his 2020 campaign for U.S. Senate.

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White Supremacists Help Emmett Till Center Raise More Than $30,000

A small clan of white supremacists unintentionally helped a Mississippi anti-racism organization raise more than $30,000 in just six days after filming a propaganda video around the memorial of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old victim of a 1955 civil-rights murder.

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Democratic Women Win House Seats, Oust GOP Incumbents in Mississippi

Shanda Yates, a millennial Democrat, could still oust Bill Denny, a top Republican in the Mississippi House, if her current lead in the House District 64 vote count holds once election officials add provisional ballots. With just the Election Day totals counted, the Associated Press reported that Yates led Denny, a 32-year incumbent, by about 51% to 49%, or 136 votes, in House District 64, which includes parts of Madison and Hinds counties.

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Black Democrat Wins in Redrawn District After Racial Gerrymander Case

Even as Republicans swept statewide offices in Mississippi on Tuesday night, Joseph Thomas, an African American Democrat in a district that stretches across six counties, narrowly ousted a Republican incumbent. Earlier this year, a federal court forced the GOP-led Legislature to redraw the boundaries for that district, Senate District 22, after finding that they had drawn it in a way that was intended to dilute black voting power.

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GOP Runs Mississippi Gamut, But Signs of Hope for Dems, Medicaid Expansion

With his Southern Baptist pastor standing beside him at the King Edward Hotel in Jackson, Democrat Jim Hood conceded defeat in the race for Mississippi governor, reiterating his religiously inspired campaign theme of fighting for “the least of these” in policy areas like health care and education.

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Election Day Hijinks, Obama Robocalls, Who's on Ballot, Election Watch Parties

Mississippi voters headed to the polls starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday to vote for top State and regional offices, including the election for governor. Polls will remain open until 7 p.m., when election workers will begin tallying up the vote.

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Voter ID Stays Under Both Secretary of State Hopefuls, But One Wants Citizenship Check

Voting rights take center stage in tomorrow's election for secretary of state between Mississippi Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, and former Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, the Democratic nominee.

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UPDATED: White Supremacists Caught at Emmett Till Memorial Making Propaganda Film

A small group of white supremacists gathered around the Emmett Till memorial in Tallahatchie County, Miss., on Saturday morning, carrying a Mississippi flag and a League of the South flag.

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Nominees Share History of Slavery, Plantations, Seg Academies in Natchez Senate Race

Republican Melanie Sojourner told the Jackson Free Press on Oct. 24 that she did not know as a young girl that the school she attended had been organized as a segregation academy at a time when white parents pulled their children out of public schools in response to court-ordered integration.

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Governor’s Race: Hood Fixates on Corruption As Reeves Avoids Interviews

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the Democratic nominee for governor, claims wealthy corporate donors control his opponent and much of the Legislature.

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Fact-Check: GOP Mailer Falsely States Hood's Record on Abortion, Other Issues

The Mississippi Republican Party is behind a recent campaign mailer with a photo of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Hood's face next to a photoshopped set of bumper stickers on the back of a truck.

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AG Hood Joins Investigation into Facebook Over Data, Competition Concerns

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is joining other attorneys general across the country in an investigation of Facebook, he announced on Tuesday.

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