Wednesday, Jan. 07, 2009

Theodore G. Bilbo

A two-term Mississippi governor, Bilbo also twice won a Senate seat from his state. But during his 1946 re-election campaign, a group of African-American citizens filed a petition claiming that Bilbo had used racially inflammatory language and had worked to deny many Mississippi blacks the right to vote. They went as far as naming him a member of the KKK, and asked the Senate to bar him from regaining his seat when the new term commenced. A series of investigations, however, focused mostly on financial irregularities, with one finding that he had accepted illegal gifts, including "a new Cadillac, a swimming pool, excavation of a lake to create an island for his home, construction of a private roadway, painting of his 'Dream House No. 1,' and furnishings for his 'Dream House No. 2,'" according to the U.S. Senate book United States Senate Election, Expulsion and Censure Cases. The 80th Congress opened on Jan. 3, 1947. Before his fellow Senators had a chance to take any action, Bilbo returned to Mississippi for emergency mouth cancer surgery. He died that August without ever having returned to Washington.