Update (6:46 PM): District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith texted Howard Ballou "This is an ongoing investigation and he (Mr. Pickering) is welcome to come testify under oath."
Original post (3:03 PM): State Auditor Stacey Pickering defended two employees indicted by a Hinds County grand jury in a press release that is posted below. Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith is prosecuting them for allegedly obstructing an investigation of Ben Allen and his use of funds as Executive Director of Downtown Jackson Partners. Pickering minced no words and provided several documents with the statement. Earlier post with copy of indictments.
Recent actions by Robert Shuler Smith, District Attorney of Hinds County are unprecedented, unfounded and beyond explanation. In a rush to further his own agenda or personal vendettas, he led a Hinds County Grand Jury to take unjust and wrong actions. I am confident that at the end of the day, David Huggins and Karei McDonald, the Director and Deputy Director of the Office of State Auditor’s Investigations Division, will be exonerated. These individuals have served the State of Mississippi with distinction for years in law enforcement and their integrity has never been in question.
*In October 2015, the Hinds County District Attorney issued a subpoena for the files of an investigation that was not complete. This action has never been taken by a prosecutor in Mississippi that we can find.
*Karei McDonald and a second investigator met with Robert Shuler Smith personally to review the subpoenaed files and reports on October 21, 2015. Smith personally signed a hand receipt (see attached) for those files and agreed to allow the Office of State Auditor to continue working to complete the investigation
*A letter from Karei McDonald was sent to Smith on October 27, 2015 to clarify and restate the discussions and actions agreed to at the October 21 meeting (see attached).
*When it was communicated that the District Attorney was not satisfied, State Auditor Stacey Pickering requested a meeting with Robert Shuler Smith to resolve any misunderstandings or problems between the two offices. Smith canceled the meeting and refused to meet with Auditor Pickering (see attached).
·From that point forward, DA Smith began contacting, coaching and ultimately calling OSA staff before the Hinds County Grand Jury.
I am calling on District Attorney Smith to rethink his recent actions and to move to have the indictments against Director Huggins and Deputy Director McDonald dismissed.
Kingfish note: The indictment states Huggins "results of the investigation of Ben Allen from being conveyed" to the District Attorney. This war is getting even hotter.