On a Mississippi talk radio show this morning, former Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove denied every piece of the unsealed testimony involving his relationship with Robin Costa, a trustee and director of the Maddox Foundation.
Musgrove appeared on SuperTalk Mississippi's Paul Gallo Show following this reporter's appearance to discuss the Maddox case and the unsealed testimony of former foundation employee Tera Hermansen. In her testimony, Hermansen revealed that Musgrove and Costa had a romantic relationship while he was governor. Audio of the conversation is available at this link, although the quality is rough.
Subsequent to Republican Haley Barbour defeating him for governor in 2003, Musgrove returned to practicing law and began representing Costa and the Maddox Foundation in fighting off a lawsuit by Tommye Maddox Working, the step-granddaughter of the late Dan Maddox, to return the foundation's assets to Tennessee. Her attorneys wanted the testimony unsealed to give evidence on how Costa has mishandled foundation money, paying an attorney with whom she's had a personal relationship. The testimony describes make-out sessions and one encounter in which Musgrove undressed Costa and licked her toes.
"There's not one ounce of truth on any part of what she was saying about that," Musgrove told Gallo regarding Hermansen's testimony. He said Costa hasn't been deposed, nor has anyone Hermansen named in her testimony, as being around when Costa supposedly bragged about her relationship with Musgrove.
Revelations in the testimony have created quite a stir within Mississippi political circles. Musgrove's name has been bandied about as a possible Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, a post he held from 1993 to 1997. It is generally considered the most powerful position in the state, more powerful than governor. Information from Hermansen's testimony assuredly would be fodder for Republicans seeking the post to use against Musgrove.
During the radio interview, the former governor said Hermansen wasn't at a meeting with Costa to discuss a program called Computers in the Classroom and that there were other people there. "I'm not sure I could identify her if she walked into the room," he said. He noted that whatever Hermansen heard was from other people. Musgrove added that he had talked to one other employee who Hermansen said was around when Costa was supposedly discussing her relationship with him and "those comments were never made by Robin Costa."
At one point, he said Hermansen has lied under oath and said, "We are looking at the possibility of what to do."
The former governor attributed the release of information to the "big PR machine" by the Maddox family. He noted that Costa's leadership of the foundation has been outstanding and that the foundation has provided millions of dollars in benefits to Mississippi.
Gallo asked Musgrove about issues Hermansen raised in her testimony regarding foundation money being misspent on minor league hockey and indoor football teams. That part of her testimony hadn't been under seal. One of Working's claims is that Costa has squandered money on money losing teams.
Musgrove said the teams were part of the non-profit's programs. "In non-profit terms, those are things that are made with the expectation of losing money for the benefit of the community," he said. "Those teams were bought partly at the request of officials there, others there, that had a tremendous benefit and help to the local community, DeSoto County and surrounding counties in northwest Mississippi."
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
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- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS