Thursday, May 12, 2022

Food Fight!

 State Auditor Shadrack White fired a salvo at a certain online newspaper in Ridgeland on Facebook: 

Read some garbage reporting this morning saying I should not have done anything in the welfare scandal and just handed the case to another law enforcement agency to ensure Phil Bryant was investigated.

Guess what? I did hand it to another law enforcement agency. After our initial arrests, I gave the FBI access to everything we have over two years ago. They have even worked from my office on the case. Between all of us, this case will be fully investigated. Period.

The reporting contains a blatant lie. "Questions about if and when White’s office alerted other authorities to [Bryant's] text messages remain." Questions do not "remain." The FBI has had access to everything we have for years. That answers the "questions." Did they not teach you the meaning of the word "everything" when you got your English degree?

What this article is doing is misleading readers to make the story more salacious. They think the more salacious they can make it, the more likely they are to win a Pulitzer Prize. If you win, by the way, I expect you to share the money with my auditors and investigators, because half of your articles about the welfare scandal are just copied-and-pasted versions of our audits. We get it, though. You need the credit so you can win your little award. My advice is to go back to writing liberal garbage about how we should all use the correct pronouns for people or why it's really important to be pro-choice right now. Stick with what you know.

What stirred up the State Auditor so? Barksdale Today reported:  

Three former state auditors say they would have recused themselves or limited their involvement in the investigation into Mississippi’s welfare fraud scandal to avoid perceptions of conflict of interest due to current auditor Shad White’s close relationship with former Gov. Phil Bryant.

White and his office identified the misspending and possible theft of tens of millions of dollars in federal money meant to help the state’s poor. But Bryant’s responsibility in directly supervising his welfare department director and the fact that some of the taxpayer money flowed to people and programs favored by the former governor are notably missing from his extensive audit report. 

White also faced questions early on — and criticism from the U.S. Attorney’s Office — as to why he didn’t promptly bring in federal authorities, who have massive investigative resources, particularly since the malfeasance involved federal tax dollars. 

The spotlight on White has grown more intense in the wake of Mississippi Today’s “The Backchannel” investigation, which showed Bryant using private texts to influence his welfare director and try to broker a deal with a pharmaceutical startup that enticed him with stock in the company. 

Bryant has since acknowledged that the content of his messages “doesn’t look good,” but while the auditor’s office has possessed the records for over two years, it concealed them from the public and has not made any indication it has further investigated the matter.

White’s relationship with Bryant goes back more than a decade. He served as policy director when Bryant was lieutenant governor and was his gubernatorial campaign manager in 2015. Bryant appointed White as state auditor, a job that has been a launching pad for runs to higher office, and supported him in his subsequent election.

Those connections have helped cast doubt over the independence and rigor of the state welfare investigation led by White. 

“The rule that I lived by was if there is any question whatsoever, don’t do it,” said Pete Johnson, who served as state auditor from 1988-1992, and ran unsuccessfully for governor, losing to Kirk Fordice in the Republican primary in 1991. Johnson said under similar circumstances, if he had such connections to someone potentially involved, he would have recused himself or limited his role in the investigation.

“You’re not only jeopardizing your integrity but the integrity of the purpose you’re pursuing … Those facts raise the question of whether or not it passes the smell test,” Johnson said. “And when those facts are looming out there, you’ve got to back off and ask will my involvement jeopardize the integrity of the investigation … I think (White) is a man of high integrity, but you asked me personally what I would do and that’s it.”

Former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus served as state auditor from 1984 to 1988. He worked closely with federal authorities in the “Operation Pretense” investigation and prosecution of widespread county government corruption across Mississippi. Mabus said that given White’s ties to Bryant, he should have handed off his lead role in investigating to someone else.

“Look, if you’re going to give the taxpayers confidence that investigations are being done impartially and objectively, even if this one is being done that way, it’s never going to look that way because of their closeness, and nobody’s going to believe that punches weren’t pulled,” Mabus said.

“… I guess a similar situation would have been if I ever learned something about (former Gov.) William Winter, whom I worked for as governor and a little bit on a campaign and I was his legal counsel,” Mabus said. “William Winter is the very last person who would ever do anything like that, but if I had come across evidence, I would have removed myself. Especially if I wasn’t going to take strong action on it, I would turn it over to somebody else.”

Steve Patterson was state auditor from 1992 to 1996, when he resigned after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of using a false affidavit to buy a car tag. In 2009 he was sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in a judicial bribery case.

Patterson said that were he in White’s position, “I would hope that I would have recused myself or brought the attorney general in to do the investigation.”

“Having said that, it’s a timing thing,” Patterson said. “You get those complaints that come in, and it’s what did you know and when did you know it. Knowing what we know now, clearly he should have recused himself and should be recusing himself now.”

Former Auditor Stacey Pickering, whom Bryant replaced with White, declined comment.

White as auditor has burnished a reputation as a hard-charging defender of state tax dollars, and was credited with unmasking a massive scheme in the 2019 welfare scandal. But some holes in the audit have since emerged, especially relating to Bryant’s involvement behind the scenes.

The Mississippi Today investigation revealed that the former governor assisted a company called Prevacus, which improperly received welfare money, and he was poised to receive stock in the company until White’s office made arrests and announced its investigation....  Rest of article.

Check out Twitter. The Battle of the Twits should be interesting today.  

Kingfish note: Mississippi Today reported in the story: 

Steve Patterson was state auditor from 1992 to 1996, when he resigned after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of using a false affidavit to buy a car tag. In 2009 he was sentenced to two years in federal prison for his role in a judicial bribery case. 

Um, that "judicial bribery case" was the Dickie Scruggs case.  Dickie Scruggs owns a big chunk of the publication.  Such a fact should have been disclosed with Mr. Patterson's quote.  

 

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you have to seek out Steve Patterson for a quote abouth ethics----

Anonymous said...

My God Shad is a whiny little bitch. He’s sensationalized this case and used the media to his benefit from the beginning. Now, the other shoe is dropping.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute.

So you're telling me that "news" organization admits Shad conducted an investigation - with arrests - in 8 months while the Biden DOJ has done precisely nothing in 2.5 years, but they're still attacking *checks notes* the guy who actually did SOMETHING?

Can someone explain to me why MT is mad at Shad and not the Biden DOJ? That's a serious question.

Anonymous said...

Good job Mr. White for the great job you are doing for the working taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

My first thought upon reading the article was "how bad do you need a story that you consult and quote Steve Patterson."

Shad is the first auditor since Maybus to actually show up for work. And the fact that the State just filed $24 million lawsuit against 34 people is a reflection on his good work.

Keep it up Shad

Anonymous said...

Surprised they were able to find Pickering to get no commented. I thought he was still in hiding

Anonymous said...

All I can think about is that scene in "A Time to Kill" where the professional witness gets crossed up over a previous conviction.

I can't believe they cited Steve Patterson! That's rich.

Anonymous said...

Shad says that any publicity is good publicity.

Anonymous said...

Wolfe's reporting started strong but it got circular weeks ago. Report the news, don't try to create the news.

Anonymous said...

It's quite comical to watch Shad's ego attempt to balance with his lack of professionalism and maturity. It makes you wonder if he's emotionally fit for office.

Yossarian said...

When Stacey Pickering declines to comment and you have to resort to Patterson, your story is bogus. They haven't invented a camera or microphone yet that Pickering won't stand in front of and bump his gums.

All this patter about what Shad did and didn't do, go ask those 34 people who just got sued about the Shad did.

Anonymous said...

Is playing around on social media during working hours a proper use of taxpayer dollars, Shad?

Anonymous said...

Shad's response is a bit on the juvenile side. I expected a more dignified response from a Harvard man.

Anonymous said...

@10:22

How on earth could ANYONE sensationalize tens of millions of dollars being misspent? Anna Wolfe has been the one pushing this story - not Shad.

Anna and the editor at Mississippi Today have gone below the belt in the last two weeks, and I'd have done the same thing as Shad, but sooner.

Yossarian said...

@10:41 AM

Sort of like commenting on JJ while at work?

Anonymous said...

This is far from a food fight, this is one of the largest welfare scandals in MS history. I'm shocked this is not national news!! We have the worst statistics in the country and have the neediest population and our money designated for helping them was misused for personal profits. How in the world this got by this long and who is involved?!!! The citizens of Mississippi needs these questions answered!

Anonymous said...

Poor Shad seems stressed. Wonder why?

Anonymous said...

I'm not happy with the way that Phil Bryant has handled everything in this case. However, I'm not convinced he has done anything illegal (and I could be wrong). I see bad decisions, poor judgement, and questionable ethics. But I can't put my finger on illegality at this point.

If Shad turned stuff over to the FBI, they will get to the bottom of it.

Anna Wolfe is very talented. She's as talented of a reporter as we have in this state. Her problem is that she, like most reporters, has an agenda. She knows beforehand what she wants to write, and she finds a few facts to allow her to write that story. Instead, she should find all the facts and let the facts dictate what story she should write. She has an agenda and is extremely biased. She will intentionally avoid facts that would destroy her agenda.

Anonymous said...

Good for Shad.
Journalists are a joke.

Anonymous said...

You honestly don’t think Shad White has been pushing this story? He’s spoken at every Rotary Club that would have him, and written an Op-Ed piece time and time again. He absolutely 100% used this case for self promotion and climbing the political ladder.

It’s funny, I don’t remember hearing or reading anything about Phil Bryant’s text messages until Anna Wolfe exposed them.

But, keep toting Shad’s water.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least he is showing some real fire. I like it.

Anonymous said...

The one other state auditor that was not asked for a comment was somehow overlookoed I guess. Where was former Auditor Phil Bryant's comments Guess that went the same way as Shad's exclusion from his 1700 page report that included hundreds of arrows pointing to Bryant and his office suite along with the report to the US Attorney.

Yes, Shad, you did 'notify' and include the US Attorney when they came in and demanded it, but during your lengthy investigation you did not include them at all. According to reports at the time, the US Attorney found out about your 'investigation' when you held your news conference announcing the 'findings'.

Hate to say it but Shad's shining career got sullied as did many others with this deal. Hard to say that he didn't do all he could to protect his former boss and appointer - evidence sure points the other way.

Anonymous said...

"Can someone explain to me why MT is mad at Shad and not the Biden DOJ? That's a serious question."

Because the person who appointed him to the job put the people who committed the fraud; additionally, Pheel benefited financially and via favors with the stolen money from DHS as well. That same person who appointed Alfred E. Neuman, it's safe to say, was not investigated at all.

People are mad at the Biden DOJ too, it's easy to be upset at both simultaneously.

Anonymous said...

Dang, little Lord Farquaad has a thin skin.

Just wait until he faces REAL scrutiny. Never practiced law a day in his life. He thinks he can start these witch hunts and people will automatically fawn over him?

Anonymous said...

Re: 11:24 - "Pheel benefitted financially ..." show us the evidence that proves he gained financially. As unseemly as his actions were, I have yet to see anything that shows he got paid off somewhere along the way. He never got any stock in Favre's concussion drug company, nothing - unless you know something the Feds haven't announced.

Anonymous said...

One thing is certain Mr. Auditor, the Barksdalers will never win a Pulitzer Prize.

Anonymous said...

What everybody seems to forget is the fraud that Shad White claims to have "found" after people inside DHS reported fraud to Governor Bryant (who was not any kind of "whistleblower" but simply turned it over to Shad) was fraud which had occurred right under his auditors' noses during the three prior years that his office had audited MDHS. Take another look at the 2020 audit from DHS where the $94 million figure first shows up and you'll note that it covers conduct from 2017, 2018 and 2919. And, yes, it appears that the auditor has a rather thin skin if this "garbage" publication gets under it so easily.

Anonymous said...

@11:30

It's Little Lord Fauntleroy. Lord Farquaad is from Shrek. Turn off the cartoons and read a book. Shad has a good rec list.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for law and order, but is anyone else getting tired of Shad? What is the old saying..."Have more than you show, speak less than you know."

Anonymous said...

"I gave the FBI access to everything we have over two years ago. " Shad did do that. He also disclosed the names of all the major players in the schemes. Everyone except Phil Bryant.

Anonymous said...

Big shout out to Donna Lynne Barksdale who is a regular JJ reader!

Anonymous said...

And poof there goes Shad’s political career. Enjoy the lecture circuit in New England.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh Shad…..I might have read that over for a day or two before I hit the send key.

Anonymous said...

@12:28 I think the @ 11:30 post used Lord Farquaad on purpose. Frankly Shad acts just like Lord Farquadd. I can't say that the outfits he wears now are like Lord Fauntleroy's smocked attire. But I welcome any evidence that proves me wrong!

Anonymous said...

Shadrack so salty

Anonymous said...

I could go on and on with a comment, However, but I will keep it brief. Shad is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Shad needs a new puppy.

Anonymous said...

It’s about time someone questioned why these texts have been hidden for 2 years. Now…let’s go a little further and ask why Shad decided to crucify the News but never said a word about Christi Webb???

Anonymous said...

Shad, I'm sure you've heard the old saying "When you wrestle with pigs, you'll both get dirty but the pig will love it." You don't owe Mississippi Today any further explanation.

Anonymous said...

Does MS Today pay it's "journalists" to troll Shad posts on KF's blog?

Anonymous said...

Shad (and apparently Phil) picked one person to be the face of this “historical scheme”. I’ve been waiting for that person to have her day and I hope like hell that day is getting close. I hope everyone involved gets exposed and burned!!

Kingfish said...

I seriously doubt it. Not their style.

Anonymous said...

Some of these comments just prove they should have confiscated Nancy’s laptop along with everything else they took

Anonymous said...

Auditor White is one of Mississippi's best elected officials in several years. He has been doing his job well compared to the last few auditors who basically did nothing. He advertises his prosecutions partially to let people know that if they steal public money they might get caught. Yes , he is Harvard educated, but what is wrong with having smart people as our elected officials? Maybe with them we can move up a few notches off of the bottom. It is a change in Mississippi to have a bright smart person in office rather than the Bubbas that are usually elected. Mississippians don't always like change as you can tell by the comments. Go SHAD ! Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

@2:03 haha. Damn. Hi Mom.

Anonymous said...

May 12, 2022 at 2:03 PM Dude, Shadrack was covering for the deputy sheriff. He is very smart and capable. Very disappointed in his bush league responses to controversy. All the 3rd grade name calling. Just the facts.

Anonymous said...

Shad cannot handle criticism. He is almost as sensitive as Marshall Ramsey.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn’t hire Shad as my lawyer. He would unravel in the courtroom. He would make a great clerk.

Anonymous said...

Shad once asked Phil what is the secret to success.

Phil told him little men with complexes should wear cowboy boots to appear taller.

Anonymous said...

An elected state official should know the first rule of being an elected state official, keep the media on your side. No good comes from calling them out. He is starting to look like a rookie.

I don't think he protected Phil, but I do think he could handle the heat a little better.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine how badly the small town clerks in this state are stressing right now? Auditors are probably out in full force for anything to take attention off of this. Look for more $400 embezzlement cases any day now.

Anonymous said...

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Anonymous said...

Shad seems worried, I’d be crapping my pants if I was in his situation. I’m betting Shad knows far more about this whole scheme than he’s letting on, he may even be a key player. I hope the feds are able to find the documents they need from this crooked gang of good old boys, but I kind of doubt they still exist after Shad got done investigating.

Anonymous said...

Shad is neither a lawyer nor a CPA. He's just Shad, a politician. And, a whiny politician at that.

Anonymous said...

Shad cannot handle criticism. He is almost as sensitive as Marshall Ramsey.

Maybe so but he's nowhere near as bitter as Ramsey.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi Today seems to be the only credible source of information on this whole scheme. I’m not surprised Shad is trying to make people question their claims, it’s about the only defense he and Phil have.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who the whistleblower in the auditor’s office is? That’s the only place that could have given up Phil’s text messages.

Unknown said...

I have nothing but respect for Shad White. All i have seen him do is take on corruption and take it down. He has done more in his tenue than most politicians do in a lifetime.

. said...

@5:18 I agree that they had to come as a leak from the auditor's office. Whoever it was good for them. At least they had the ethics and morals to do the right thing when their boss did not.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to break it to you, ivy leaguers, but the leak came from a party defendant. No way any one not a part had access to all that. Had to be Nancy and Zach. Soften up the feds for a plea

Anonymous said...

5:08 PM - Wrong! Shad has bachelor's and master's degrees in economics, and Juris Doctorate (law degree) from Harvard Law School.

Nice try Phil.

Anonymous said...

It seems Anna got Shad’s attention. He’s definitely all ears now.

Anonymous said...

@8:44 BINGO

Anonymous said...

Shad is all done. He got used by Phil Bryant. End of story.

Anonymous said...

@8:44 I disagree….I don’t think Nancy or Zach would have emails and text messages between Phil and the FL doctor, or Phil Bryant and Brett Favre. And I sure as hell don’t think they’d share them with Anna Wolfe if they did. I’m betting the doctor provided the emails and texts to cover his ass.

Anonymous said...

Anna’s interview with Shad about the texts mentions John Davis 35 times. News aren’t mentioned once. Davis leaked it.

Anonymous said...

@11:15AM - Agreed. The common denominator in those leaked messages is John Davis. CYA John.

Anonymous said...

Shad doesn’t know how to stay above the fray. Shad doesn’t know how to stay cool. Shad doesn’t know how to keep his hands clean. Everything you’re seeing from Shad is an amygdaloid reaction to the threat that he perceives from is looming due to his part in this mess. This is his “fight or flight” response. Keep watching. It will continue to ramp up as the threat inches closer.


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