Sunday, November 16, 2014

Democrats call for MDOC hearings

The Mississippi House Democrats issued the following press release:


JACKSON, MISS. State Representative David Baria (D-Waveland) today called for a Legislative hearing on recent charges against long-time MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps for an alleged bribery and kickback scheme dating as far back as 2007. Baria also called into question the reasoning behind Epps’ re-appointments even while he was under intense investigation by at least one state agency, according to reports.

“The conduct alleged in the indictment—bribery and kickbacks concealed as consulting services—enriched individuals at the expense of Mississippi taxpayers,” Baria, an attorney, said. “As a member of the Legislature charged with being a good steward of public resources, I have questions about what our state leaders knew and when they knew it as it relates to former Commissioner Epps.

On November 6, 2014, a federal indictment was handed down against former MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps for schemes that allegedly enriched him and his friends by millions of dollars. It appears that Epps was reappointed to his powerful position twice while under investigation: once by former Gov. Haley Barbour in 2008 and again by Gov. Phil Bryant in 2012.

“Why was such a powerful official who was under intense scrutiny for years allowed to remain in his position? How much state money has been wasted by the failure to stop shady business deals by an official under investigation?” Baria said.

“Sadly, the MDOC scandal is not an isolated incident of government corruption in our state. It is just the latest example of a larger trend of corruption and cronyism in Mississippi government over the past decade. From the Department of Marine Resources scandal that resulted in multiple federal convictions to a former State Representative being forced to resign for steering state contracts to his family business, there is a disturbing trend of political appointments and state contracts being used to enrich the politically well-connected,” Baria said.

“The frequent use of no-bid and single source procurement contracts similarly puts money in the pockets of the well-connected, but at exorbitant costs to the Mississippi taxpayer,” Baria said. “At a time when we are told by Republican leadership that the State does not have the money to adequately fund education and ensure that working-class Mississippians have access to healthcare, there never seems to be a shortage of funds to enrich those who feed at the trough of state government.

“In light of this trend that only continues to fester, I am asking that we in the Legislature convene hearings to investigate why former Commissioner Epps was allowed to remain in his position despite a long-pending investigation and to comprehensively review the handling of state contracts. Mississippi must get out of the business of back room deals that benefit no one but politicians and their friends and family.”

Baria said he intends to pursue his request for hearings and will be introducing legislation to rein in the lucrative no-bid contract system currently in place.


Anonymous said...

lobby is another word for payoffs and kickback. This Should take down the entire state government.

Anonymous said...

Democrats can't call for anything other than help. We republicans make the calls Now after 150 years of fag-o-Crat rule, Ya Hear!

Anonymous said...

Rep.Baria is spot on with the call for hearings but it should include all agencies.Many no bid contracts are a way people are being paid back for helping someone get elected.Phil Bryant will see when it is time for his re-election how mad people really are about this matter.

Anonymous said...

phil doesn't want some of his BIG contributors to be exposed from a hearing on no bid contracts....there's TONS of someone said, just wait until next year and see who gets paid will be AWFUL...phil....our tea party governor who is in bed with those who want free government money....and will get it

Anonymous said...

Start with the Attorney General

Friendly Henry said...

Why start with the A.G.? Put on a damned blindfold, draw a name outa the hat and start there. There is not an agency out there that's not involved. Not one! Nor is there a single politician or employee with the ability to contract who is not involved.

Take a blind stab. Sling a dart at the board. Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo....

Anonymous said...

Will no bid and/or emergency contracts become a campaign issue? Will Phil Bryant deny he even knows the people at Frontier Strategies like Obama is doing with consultant Jonathan Gruber because of the questionable millions they have received from the state coffers? Things will be very be interesting with the scandal at MDOC putting the spotlight on consultants and no bid contracts.

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