Like the systemic political corruption in Jefferson Parish, the unfolding scandal at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is like a cheap sweater in that one loose thread has been pulled and now the whole thing is unraveling. As Karen Nelson at the Sun Herald has reported on each new out house transaction, I sense a growing public outrage, especially now that a not for profit organization with a previously sterling reputation has emerged as a co-conspirator to what strongly appears to be illegal acts involving DMR Director Bill Walker and his son Scott. Tina Shumate, the person at DMR in charge of the Coastal Impact Assistance Program is also neck deep in the cesspool doing real estate deals with her parents with public money and it is with Tina’s
parents brother that we’ll start as she is no ordinary legacy political hack stinking up state government as her daddy brother Curt Hebert is an expert in wallowing in the crony capitalism cesspool dating to his disastrous run as head of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Agency, which in reality regulated nothing expect the lining of their own pockets:
Hebert, a former Mississippi utility regulator who is often regarded as a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), was named chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by President George W. Bush in January 2001. A Republican, Hebert was first nominated to FERC in 1997 by former President Bill Clinton. During Hebert’s tenure, FERC has been criticized for being too laissez faire, and Hebert’s critics accuse him of being a free market ideologue.
Indeed it was under Hebert’s watch that ENRON price gouged west coast power consumers by manipulating power supplies, causing rolling blackouts and other disruptions that allowed ENRON to profit mightily from selling electricity into the contrived power shortage. Hebert is an expert in Mississippi style crony capitalism and it appears his
daughter sister well learned at his side how to slop at the trough.
What I am gonna do today is link the Sun Herald reporting for those that want to catch up and call bull on DMR Director Bill Walker’s assertion the OIG showing up at his office late last Summer is somehow routine. A state agency seeing someone from the State Auditors Office is routine though it appears the Auditor’s office, as it concerns DMR corruption, has been asleep at the switch for many years and in my opinion their Johnny-come-lately appearance on the DMR scene is to ascertain the extent of the scandal so it can be contained as I have no faith Governor Phil Bryant wants to see this scandal exposed since it involves so many of his supporters.
But before I get to those links everyone needs to know what a questioned cost is as I get the feeling many people think it is an auditor raising their hand saying, “Oh ohh I got a question about this cost!” as that could not be further from the truth. The term “question cost” comes from OMB Circular A-133 which is a major document in the governmental auditing community when it comes to examining the use of federal funds:
Questioned cost means a cost that is questioned by the auditor because of an audit finding:
(1) Which resulted from a violation or possible violation of a provision of a law, regulation, contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or other agreement or document governing the use of Federal funds, including funds used to match Federal funds;
(2) Where the costs, at the time of the audit, are not supported by adequate documentation; or
(3) Where the costs incurred appear unreasonable and do not reflect the actions a prudent person would take in the circumstances.
Of course this fits that which is going on at the Mississippi DMR in their friends and family program to the T. When an auditor, especially one from the OIG questions a cost it is usually followed by a repayment demand, sometimes by the FBI. We need the FBI looking at this whole fiasco in the worst way IMHO.
Here are links to the Sun Herald reports and I urge everyone to read the story comments as it is all coming out as people are beginning to talk. My experience doing Slabbed is that it is best we get everything out in the open so we can really see the politicians tap dance.
- Auditor’s investigation follows federal review at DMR
- Land swap for marina questioned by developer
- Federal auditors question DMR land buys in South Mississippi
- $210,000 from DMR buys Walker’s son’s land
Read ’em quick as McClatchy will break the links to these excellent reports around a month after publication (slitting their own throats in the process).