Editorial: The only enemy was within

By STAFF REPORTS,

State Rep. Doug McLeod, R-Lucedale, was unopposed for re-election this year. But after a domestic violence charge was filed against him last weekend, it is clear that he’s the only person who can prevent his return to the Mississippi Legislature.

McLeod represents George and Stone counties, near the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The George County Sheriff’s Department sent deputies to the lawmaker’s home Saturday night after receiving a call about an assault there.

The sheriff’s department incident report said McLeod had been drinking, and was holding a glass of alcohol when deputies arrived.

The report said his speech was slurred, he walked in a slow, zig-zag pattern and at one point had to grab a handrail to maintain his balance.

Deputies arrested him on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge after finding his wife with a bloody nose.

She alleged that her husband punched her, and told deputies that her husband was drunk and “just snapped.”

To his credit, House Speaker Philip Gunn, also a Republican, wasted no time in calling for McLeod to resign “if, in fact, these allegations are true.”

Gov. Phil Bryant’s spokesman said the same thing, and state Republican Party chairman Lucien Smith added that violence in relationships is unacceptable.

There should be a certain degree of resistance to jumping to a conclusion in any criminal case. Though it seems unlikely, there may be another side to the story, but it’s worth noting that McLeod, who has been released on bail, has not spoken publicly as of Wednesday. If there is another side, he needs to tell it.

The incident is a reminder that while public officials can survive many missteps and mistakes, there are still a few mortal sins that should leave anyone unelectable. Thankfully, domestic violence is one of them.

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