A lobbyist in Jackson made crude sexual comments to a female Harrison County supervisor during a social gathering connected to a conference, officials say.
District 1 Supervisor Beverly Martin said she was about to introduce District 4 Supervisor Kent Jones to a lobbyist when the lobbyist said to her, “suck my d---.”
“I always had a lot of respect for the lobbyist,” Martin said. “But I stopped dead in my tracks.”
Martin said she asked the lobbyist to tell Jones what he’d just said to her.
Jones said he didn’t hear the first comment, but said the lobbyist replied, “I want a BJ,” which is a term for oral sex.
“I was like, really? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jones said.
“It was totally uncalled for. After that, the lobbyist kind of wandered off.”
The officials were attending a social event during a Mississippi Association of Supervisors conference at the Hilton Jackson hotel.
Martin, Jones and dozens of leaders, business owners and officials from the Mississippi Coast have been lobbying state legislators to give $750 million in BP oil spill settlement money directly to the Coast. They also attended the Gulf Coast Legislative Reception on Wednesday.
Martin posted about the sexual remarks on her personal Facebook page, which is private but garnered a lot of attention. She did not name the lobbyist, but other commenters did.
“Here we are up here in Jackson trying to do something good for the people of my county, the Mississippi Coast and our state, and I have to put up with crap like this,” Martin said.
Jones said he feels bad for Martin, and that comments like that are unacceptable regardless of their job as officials.
“I’m embarrassed for Beverly. But take the elected official out of the equation and it is never right for a man to talk to a woman that way.”
Martin is part of the first female-majority board of supervisors on the Coast, and likely the entire the Southeast, she said.
“Don’t think that’s lost on me,” she said.
“This good ol’ boy system has gone on for too long. Men are still talking like that to women because they think they can get away with it. I don’t think they even realize it’s wrong.”
Martin said her husband, Bernie Burkholder has called the lobbyist and confronted him. Burkholder is former chief executive officer Treasure Bay Gaming & Resorts in Biloxi.
The lobbyist told her husband it was just a joke, Martin said.
“My husband told him it’s not a joke. He said don’t you ever talk to my wife like that again and you should never talk to any woman that way.”
Martin said several dozen people, men and women, have called her to give her their support.
Martin said she can relate to President Donald Trump’s reference to “drain the swamp.”
“We’ve got our own swamp to drain in Mississippi,” she said.