Sen. Wicker keeps aide on staff after strip club arrest
An aide to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is staying employed there after charges were dropped following his recent arrest on running an illegal strip club in Jackson, Miss., a spokesman for his office told Caught Our Eye.
The aide, Saleem Baird, is a legislative correspondent making a $52,000 salary out of the conservative senator's Washington office (a fact we know because then-Rep. Wicker's 2006 bill reacting to LegiStorm's launch with a ban on the publication of congressional staff salaries went nowhere). While working in Washington, Baird was also managing the club in Jackson, Miss. The staffer was arrested Sept. 3 at Jackson's Level 3 nightclub along with three women who were allegedly nude on stage when vice officers arrived. As the police report notes, "A male who identified himself as Saleem Baird advised that he was the manager and in charge. He was also placed under arrest for Violation of City Ordinance."
Baird did not return our call yesterday but Wicker's spokesman, Rick Curtsinger, said that the charges against Baird were dropped. He did not elaborate much further on Baird's involvement or how he could manage a nightclub in Jackson while holding a full-time job in Washington. "Our understanding is that Saleem Baird is no longer an owner of the club and you will have to speak with the club's owner about details," Curtsinger said. The owner Curtsinger referred to was Jason Wells, who also was not eager to elaborate on the details but said Baird hasn't been involved in ownership of the club "in years." He would not answer further questions we had, such as why Saleem Baird claimed to police to be manager of the club or why a local newspaper article published long before the arrest identified Baird as a business partner in Level 3.
Mississippi state records indicate that Jason Baird was the founding CEO of a company called Average Joe Entertainment LLC, whose web site said its goal is to "bring upscale, quality adult events back to the party scene." On March 5, for example, Average Joe teamed up with a fraternity at Jackson State to sponsor a "Bare as Your Dare Pajama Party" at the Level 3 nightclub. The promotional poster, featuring a scantily clad woman, promised that the "Less U Wear, Less U Pay."
Neither Curtsinger nor Wells could explain the Facebook identity of a "Saleem 'Average Joe' Wells". This Facebook page with the handle "AverageJoeEntertainment" promoting the club and displays artwork from a party at the club on Oct. 8, more than a month after the arrest. Jason Wells said that Saleem Baird is the only Saleem he knows. Jason Wells is a Facebook friend with "Saleem 'Average Joe' Wells", as is Saleem Baird. "Saleem 'Average Joe' Wells" identifies his college as Tougaloo College, Baird's own alma mater, and provides his contact information as the home page for Baird's Average Joe Entertainment web site.
Baird cuts a distinctly public profile for a job as congressional aide that is often anonymous. His personal Facebook page has 3000 friends, with an additional 4600 friends if you count the page of "Saleem 'Average Joe' Wells." One of his two Twitter handles is saleemdadream. The other is PretyKONFIDENT1, which boasts the tagline: "IF YOU DONT KNOW ME EVENTUALLY YOU WILL".