PHILADELPHIA, Miss.–Mississippi’s Giant House Party devotes two days each year to political candidates, with three during election years. This means there’s a lot of words spoken over the PA at Founder’s Square. This year some of the words came from the state political race that’s getting the most attention from the media, the race for state auditor.
With accusations that current Auditor Stacey Pickering spent his campaign money unwisely, and the Clarion-Ledger newspaper reporting that there may be an investigation, Pickering has denied that he has spoken with the FBI or any other agency about such an investigation.
His main opponent, Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler, said Wednesday that she does not work for the FBI, the Clarion-Ledger, nor has she made any allegations. She said instead, that she has “asked questions”.
Those questions came out loud and clear in her ten-minute speech.
“I think it’s very, very important that questions are answered today regarding the campaign finance report of our present auditor,” said Hawkins-Butler. She spoke about the RV, the car and the garage door that were in question last week.
Pickering has since issued a statement where he claims each purchase was on the up and up.
In fact, he did not address the accusations in his speech, which immediately followed his opponent. Instead, Pickering focused on his annual exceptions report, which is due out Thursday. In the report, he said $24 million has been recovered in his eight years as auditor, with $5 million of that in the last year.
“A lot of that was with the Chris Epps case,” he said on the Gallo Radio Show, referring to the former state corrections commissioner, accused of taking kickbacks for contracts, a matter which has yet to be finally resolved in the criminal court.
“The reality is this campaign, this primary Tuesday is all about who’s qualified to serve as state auditor…and that’s what we should be talking about is our record,” said Pickering.
Butler has repeatedly called Pickering’s claim to recovered money as low-hanging fruit, saying there have not been enough audits and that Pickering did not perform his duty in auditing the Dept. of Marine Resources.
The primary is Tuesday. Both are running as Republicans.
BUTLER AND PICKERING AUDIO