Rhetoric on the role of corporate money in legislative races heated up again yesterday, when Stephen LaRoque, toppled in May with the help of Art Pope's corporate largesse, had some tough words for the Puppetmaster.
"We will address those lies and half truths," said LaRoque. "We will expose Willie Ray Starling for being the puppet of Art Pope that he is."
Starling argues Pope doesn't control him. He said voters just saw him as the true Christian conservative.
"I don't profess to be one," said Starling. "I am one."
LaRoque has now stepped up his criticism of Pope and the power of money. He compared Pope's contributions to be on par with the actions of former lawmaker Michael Decker, who last week pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy. Decker admitted taking $50,000 to switch parties and help Black remain in power. Pope has used his family money to support certain Republicans.
"I think in many ways it's worse, because he's in there buying seats," said LaRoque. "He's trying to get a majority of legislative seats."
Pope called the accusation "defamatory" and an insult to him and voters. He said he and his company follow all campaign finance laws.
"It is Stephen LaRoque who is a supporter of the corrupt Jim Black," said Pope. "I've not done anything wrong. There's no basis for those charges."
Pope called LaRoque's comments an insult? Duh.