Trump pardons several Mississippians, including former Tate Reeves staffer

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2021

President Donald Trump, in his final hours in office, granted pardons and commutations to dozens of people, including a campaign staffer of Gov. Tate Reeves who now works for the state, and others convicted of crimes in Mississippi.

“I am very humbled by the president thinking enough of me to do this,” said David Clanton, who served as political director on Reeves’ gubernatorial campaign and is now employed as director of surplus property for the state Department of Finance and Administration. “… A lot of people were involved in this — many people, I’m not going to say names.”

Trump fully pardoned Clanton for his conviction in the early 1990s of “false statements and related charges.” Clanton’s charges stem from farm subsidies fraud when Clanton served on the USDA’s Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service in Mississippi. Clanton’s case was involved in a federal investigation into then-U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, for which Espy was indicted but later acquitted. A federal investigative report said that Clanton participated in a “Mississippi Christmas tree scheme” to allow farmers to fraudulently receive hundreds of thousands in crop subsidies.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A White House release on the pardons said that U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw and others supported Clanton’s pardon, but made no mention of Reeves, who is a staunch supporter of Trump. Wicker’s office declined to comment on the pardon.

Clanton also declined comment on the case, other than, “It was a long time ago, and I don’t really remember much about it … it did have to deal with farm subsidies.” Reeves’ office did not immediately respond to request for comment on Wednesday, including a question of whether he had any qualms about Clanton serving at DFA after a conviction involving government fraud.

The Trump release said that, “Mr. Clanton’s supporters testify to his contributions to the community, especially with respect to issues surrounding rural healthcare. Mr. Clanton has been active with 4-H Clubs and other organizations in his community.”

Trump’s other pardons for Mississippi crimes are:

Dr. Robert S. Corkern – Batesville physician Corkern pleaded guilty to bribery in 2012 in a federal case alleging multi-million dollar health care fraud in North Mississippi. Trump said the pardon is supported by Sens. Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, former Gov. Phil Bryant and others.

“This pardon will help Dr. Corkern practice medicine in his community, which is in dire need of more doctors as it has struggled to keep up with demand for emergency services,” the Trump release said. “Dr. Corkern served in the Mississippi Army National Guard and has generously provided his services to low-income patients.”

Joey Hancock – Hancock was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Trump’s release said: “Senator Roger Wicker, and Mr. Hancock’s employer, pastor, and other members of his community all support this pardon … Following his release from prison, Mr. Hancock has been a hard-working employee and active in his church and community.”

Steven Benjamin Floyd – Floyd, who joined the Marine Corps at age 17 and saw combat in Iraq, pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery by extortion. Trump’s release said: “Since his release from prison in 2009, Mr. Floyd has exemplified the power of second chances, and is raising a family and owns a successful car repair business. Mr. Floyd’s dedication to service includes helping extinguish fires set during the recent unrest and repairing widows and disabled veterans’ cars free of charge. President Trump thanks Mr. Floyd for his past military service and for his commitment to his community.”

Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations in his final hours in office — as presidents traditionally do. His pardons included one of his former campaign fundraisers, a former political strategist and two well-known Hip Hop artists.

Pro Football Hall of Famer and Jackson State University head football coach Deion Sanders wrote a letter of support for rapper Lil Wayne, who was also pardoned by the president.

By Geoff Pender, Mississippi Today