AP Newsbreak: Barbour hits lecture circuit Jan. 11

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has told The Associated Press his first event as a professional speaker will be the day after he leaves office.

Barbour, 64, said Monday that he’s booked to speak Jan. 11 in Miami at a conference hosted by Barclays bank. He’s limited to two terms, and his time as governor ends at noon Jan. 10.

Barbour was a Washington lobbyist and former Republican National Committee chairman before unseating a Democratic governor in his home state in November 2003.

He’s being represented by Leading Authorities, a Washington firm that handles speech bookings and event planning.

“We checked with the (state) Ethics Commission, who said that I could have somebody to represent me and I could accept speeches before I got out of office, as long as the speech itself will not be until after I’ve gone out of office,” Barbour said during an AP interview Monday in his office near the state Capitol.

“And so believe it or not, last week the speaker’s bureau called me and said, ‘Would you be willing to do something in Miami on Jan. 11?’ That’ll be my first paid speech,” he said.

Ethics Commission director Tom Hood confirmed in a separate interview that Barbour’s attorney spoke to him informally about Barbour’s plans to hit the paid lecture circuit when leaving office.

“They were aware of the potential necessity to give up speaking fees, if necessary, and they were willing to do that,” Hood said.

Hood said there are no prohibitions on Barbour’s being paid for speeches after leaving office, as long as there is no relation between a speech payment and business he conducted as governor.

Barbour did not say how much he’ll be paid for speeches, only that the fee will depend on how time-consuming the appearance is and how much travel is involved. The chief operating officer of Leading Authorities did not immediately respond to a message.

The firm represents several high-profile clients, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for president. Barbour considered seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president but said in late April that he wouldn’t run because he didn’t have the “fire in the belly.”

Barbour has previously said that he plans to write a book about crisis management when he leaves office, drawing on his experience responding to Hurricane Katrina, which left a wide swath of destruction across south Mississippi in 2005.

He and his wife, Marsha, plan to return to Yazoo City when they leave the Governor’s Mansion. He said he will have offices in Washington and Mississippi — most likely in the capital city of Jackson. Barbour said he still holds a Mississippi law license but it is not active.

Barbour said he doesn’t know if he will return to the Washington lobbying firm he helped found, formerly called Barbour Griffith and Rogers and known the past few years as BGR.

“The place that would make the most sense, that would be the most logical, would be BGR,” he said Monday. “But one of the issues that I will have about anything is, making speeches takes a lot of time. So you’re not very valuable to a lobbying firm or a law firm or a counseling firm or whatever if you’re footin’ all over the country and around the world, making speeches.”