With last month's news that federal prosecutors are no longer pursuing longtime political operative P.L. Blake, it appears the case is closed on the investigations surrounding the attempted bribery of Circuit Judge Henry Lackey. The scandal led to the convictions and disbarments of Dickie Scruggs, his son Zach, Joey Langston, Sidney Backstrom, and Timothy Bakducci; as well as former State Auditor Steve Patterson and former Hinds Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter.

An ex-fighter pilot, Scruggs rose to become one of the state's wealthiest attorneys after earning millions of dollars in asbestos lawsuits, followed by leading the multi-billion dollar case with then Attorney General Mike Moore against the nation's tobacco industry.

Blake, according to court testimony, was paid $50 million by Scruggs for clipping newspaper articles and providing political intelligence. But many believed Blake served as Scruggs' "bag-man" by using the funds to solve sensitive problems. Blake's attorney confirmed to reporter Jerry Mitchell that his client was no longer under investigation.

The high drama intrigue played out in Mississippi's newspapers and on a number of political and legal blogs. The characters seemed to leap from the pages of John Grisham fiction and pulled in major politicians including U.S. Senator Trent Lott and Attorney General Jim Hood - neither of which was accused by the government of any wrong doing.

The scandal spawned two books, "Kings of Tort" by Y'all Politics blogger Alan Lange and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Dawson, in its second printing; and, "The Fall of the House of Zeus" by former journalist and professor Curtis Wilkie, due out this October.

This column profiled "Kings of Tort" and looks forward to Wilkie's addition to the story. Richard Ford and Tom Brokaw provide promotional review for Wilkie's book subtitled, "The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer." Ford calls it, "Addictive reading for anyone interested in greed, outrageous behavior, epic bad planning and character, lousy luck, and worst of all, comically bad manners." Brokaw describes it as, "a riveting American saga of ambition, cunning, greed, corruption, high life and low life...good ol' boys gone bad with flair, private jets, and lots of cash to carry."

As the case closes, more and more details leak out on how the Scruggs team operated. At the time the FBI raided the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, the Scruggs Katrina Group was fighting State Farm Insurance over denied claims resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Scruggs was counting on two "whistle blowers" with inside information.

In a trial later this year, two former employees of a company contracted by State Farm for damage assessment - sisters Cori and Kerri Rigsby - will allege State Farm acted improperly. State Farm's discovery has revealed to the public the communications between the Scruggs group and the Rendon Group, a Washington DC public relations firm. The e-mails provide a peak behind the curtain of the strategy and tactics employed by one of the nation's top legal crusaders and a covert public relations firm.

Rolling Stone profiled the PR firm's founder, John Rendon, in 2005 and described him as "the man who sold the war" in Iraq: "The Pentagon secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. He is a leader in the strategic field known as 'perception management,' manipulating information - and, by extension, the news media." The article quoted a speech Rendon gave at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996 describing himself as, "a person who uses communication to meet public-policy or corporate-policy objectives. I am an information warrior and a perception manager."

Rendon is a serious man. When top professionals - millionaires, corporations, countries - need serious work, they call his firm. When Scruggs went head to head with State Farm Insurance in the wake of Mississippi's multi-billion dollar natural disaster, the Rendon Group provided the public relations and media strategies needed to affect public perception and apply political pressure.

Speaking of these e-mails, Lange writes on his blog, "I never thought there would be enough material in the Scruggs saga for a follow up book. Now, I am forced to rethink that a bit." His review of the 400 pages of e-mails describes the Scruggs/Rendon efforts at creating credibility for the Rigsby sisters, contending with critical blogs, and managing the media including using a close relationship with Attorney General Hood.

Hood's personal e-mail address is included in the materials, which surely irritates the man who earlier this year supported legislation to block state government from releasing the work e-mail addresses of state employees. Hood said he provided his personal e-mail address to another state while seeking information regarding pheasant hunting on public lands, only to later be flooded with tourism materials. Now that these Scruggs/Rendon e-mails have been revealed, I trust he has secured a new personal e-mail address.

Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Contact him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.