DMR Scandal Day 80: This is too rich…….:-)

There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know. ~ Ambrose Bierce

Folks we all gotta take off our hats to the DMR Beat Team at the Sun Herald because the gang is doing a great job, especially in today’s day and age of the local newsroom cut to the bone by absentee investor owned chains like the Sun Herald’s McClatchy that struggle under massive corporate debtloads.  Bad times in the newspaper industry are no secret but the Sun Herald’s reporting on the unfolding scandal at DMR should remind us all of the societal value of high quality investigative journalism.

I mention this because often times one has to often read between the lines in a straight news story to fully understand the situation the reporter(s) is (are) trying to convey.  Today it does not take much reading to figure out the Sun Herald would love to fully flesh out this entire DMR topic but they feel stymied.  Here’s a long winded explanation why.

Today’s top story on DMR by Anita Lee and Karen Nelson on Bill Walker’s Foundation is mostly a recap of previous reporting  dating back to December 8, 2012.  That said it had a few new quotes from CMR Chairman Vernon Asper and yes, he comes across as clueless Billy Walker tool, which he surely was considering he chaired the Commission on Marine Resources yet evidently knew next to nothing about what was going on at the agency.  This in turn is a massive breach of Asper’s fiduciary duty as Chairman of the CMR but we need to circle that for now.  It also had quotes from emails involving Bill Walker’s son Scott arranging one of those taxpayer funded fishin’ trips with representatives of an engineering firm out of Mobile, Thompson Engineering.  It was nice to see the taxpayers bought beer and that Pascagoula Mayor and fellow crony capitalist Robbie Maxwell has entered into the equation.  Maxwell, Pascagoula’s part time Mayor is as bad as Bill Walker folks, maybe even worse IMHO.

As bad as this is, and believe me what Phil Bryant’s coastal political cronies have done is very bad, none of this is new and Gov Phil, better than anyone should know exactly what I’m talking about as he was state auditor when it all came down: ENRON.

It was massive accounting frauds at ENRON and WorldCom that led to government regulation of large swaths of the CPA profession and deservedly so I’ll add.  For instance at ENRON there was an ossified, ineffectual Board of Directors stacked with politically connected phonies like Senator Phil Gramm’s wife Wendy, an economist that could rationalize about anything. At DMR, by their own admission we have a Board of Trustees that had no clue what was going on and who evidently did not bother to engage their jobs beyond the free boat rides, fishing trips etc.  When the people that are supposed to be running the show are asleep at the switch bad things happen as we found out at ENRON and now DMR.

ENRON used off balance sheet special purpose entities or (SPE in accounting lingo) as a major vehicle for much of the criminal activity that occurred   DMR director Bill Walker created an off books foundation that sucked all manner of tax dollars away from DMR’ mission to support the boats Walker used to wine and dine everyone on the taxpayer dime and lord knows what else.

And speaking of what else I detailed some of it as it relates to Hancock County’s role in the CIAP disaster.  None of these schemes are particularly innovative and in fact are of the in your face variety.  When there is no oversight to begin with why bother with the bells and whistles of a complex corruption enterprise like the one Aaron Broussard created in Jefferson Parish. Lest I digress.

Governor Phil should well remember from his time as State Auditor that in 1992  the Governmental Accounting Standards Board issued GASB Statement 14, The Financial Reporting Entity under which Billy Walker’s Private Foundation certainly fell.  Yet here is Walker with his own private slush fund buying millions of dollars of fishing boats and lord knows what else and no one knew anything about it.  The question ladies and gents is what does this say about the level of oversight at these state agencies?  Simple folks, despite Governor Phil serially saying for years at speaking engagements “In God we trust, all others we audit”, nobody was auditing his coast based political cronies at DMR, or even worse if someone did audit them there is an audit failure of massive proportion. It is just that bad folks but we already know all this from months ago.

So back to the Sun Herald feeling stymied thing.  Here are two links to other reporting on DMR within the past few days:

The first story is a worthy profile of the Florida equivalent not for profit to Billy Walker’s slush fund, the Marine Resources  Development Foundation. The second had not much new information in it as Karen Nelson confirmed what anyone with any semblance of a connection to the Bolton Building already knew that the place was crawling with investigators.

The next trio of news stories reveals the reason for the rehashing of old news  and betrays some frustration from the powers that be at the Sun Herald:

That’s right folks, Mississippi officialdom is withholding public records from the paper, have been for months in fact.  You get the feeling the newspaper really wants to kick Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a man with a self professed dislike of Mississippi political bloggers, square in the nuts.  It is almost a woman scorned type of feeling that comes through the editorial I linked above.  It is at this point that I feel compelled to do a compare and contrast between Slabbed New Media and the Sun Herald.

Last summer I sent a massive public records request to the Parish of Jefferson involving documents from the Aaron Broussard administration, some of which were also subject of a massive federal grand jury investigation involving systemic corruption in Jefferson Parish.  In fact, as a result of my public records request, the Parish eventually identified over 30 boxes of documents that were responsive to the original set of federal grand jury subpoenas that had not been previous identified or turned over to the authorities.  The Parish initially denied Slabbed’s public records request.

Likewise the Sun Herald sent in a PRR for information on the two accounts they identified in their reporting on DMR friends and family program and were turned down because of a contrived exception to the Mississippi Public Records Statute.  The Sun Herald has been sucking on that for months and the frustration boiled over in today’s paper.  I think it is clear they will not sue to preserve their rights. That said we need to quote from Anita’s story, Attorneys: DMR wrong to withhold financial records from public to add a bit of depth to the discussion:

DMR attorney Sandy Chesnut, assigned to represent the agency by the Attorney General’s Office, claims the financial records fall under the criminal investigations exemption to the state Public Records Act.

Not so, say attorneys Henry Laird of Gulfport and Charlie Mitchell, assistant dean of journalism at the University of Mississippi.

“These are clearly public records,” Laird said. “The Department of Marine Resources is not a criminal investigation agency that can avail itself of this exemption to the Public Records Act.

“These records were not generated in pursuing a criminal investigation. They were not generated by a criminal investigatory agency. So their claim that they are exempt from the Public Records Act is not true. Even if it were, the records were not generated to further an investigation.

“The objection to furnishing these public records is not well-reasoned. It is wrong.”

Besides moonlighting as the attorney for Aaron Broussard’s corrupt Canadian based business associates Goatherder Attorney Henry Laird represents the Sun Herald and his quote on not being well reasoned resonated with me for several reasons.  At this point in our compare and contrast I’ll add when Jefferson Parish turned Slabbed New Media down, I turned with complete confidence to my crack attorney Bobby Truitt, from whom the mere threat of litigation opened the door for Slabbed New Media and the journalism in the public interest that took place after such as this public document exposing Laird’s clients Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret as liars regarding the extent to which Broussard was involved in marketing their overseas business ventures as Broussard shook down Parish contractors to invest in these schemes:

How do we know the Sun Herald isn’t going to sue? Mainly because they’ve taken to their editorial page complaining and are quoting their lawyer in news stories belly aching about it. Now back to that Not well-reasoned thing.  I would submit that should Sun Herald choose to sue fort these records, General Hood could point to previous legal positions taken by Attorney Laird in his unsuccessful SPEECH Act suit against Slabbed and his curious  arguments that public records are somehow not public when they involve self admitted felon Aaron Broussard’s gay business associates in Canada.  Then again I think Glenn Nardi knows better that to let Laird litigate anything for ‘em, which in turn adversely impacts the news operation as illustrated today.  I’m personally very thankful I have by far the better man working on behalf of the public’s interest here at Slabbed.

37 thoughts on “DMR Scandal Day 80: This is too rich…….:-)

  1. MUST BE NERVOUS

    One point of interest I notice is the location of the reef created by the subject oil rig in which the previous owner paid the DMR an amount of money to take it. This money was placed in the Foundation’s checking account instead. This rig to reef location is in Louisiana waters or maybe Federal waters not even close to Miss. waters.How many taxpaying residents of our state will ever be able to fish this location besides Jimmy Taylor and the cronies on the boat trips paid for by these same taxpayers?

    Reply
  2. Charlene Silkwooder

    Well, this is just another black eye on Trent Lott and now Roger Wicker. Walker was Trent Lott’s main main in Washington and baby Walker worked between his Coast office and Washington. Then Baby Walker became a staff officer of Roger Wicker’s office when he was elected. I guess after Baby Walker beat up that lady in Washington D. C. while on business for Wicker, that Wicker decided to cut his losses and got rid of Baby Walker. Since everyone has had their fill of Baby Walker in the GOP, I guess he had to make a living some way….what better than off of the State of Mississippi Taxpayers’ backs. After all, he IS entitled you know…(or so he thinks). When he was arrested in Ocean Springs, he told the officer…”Do you know who I am?” like the officer should bow down to him. So he has been raised to think he is a Prince….I guess he believes it????

    Reply
  3. interested party

    I could be wrong, but it looks like there is another
    culprit in this DMR Scandal–the State Auditor’s
    Office. How can you audit a public entity’s books
    for so many years, and not pick up on this stuff?!
    One of the attorneys for the Auditor’s office gave
    the excuse that the records could not be released
    because of a criminal investigation. That pretty
    much says it all. She apparently knows some criminal
    activity has taken place to use that as an excuse
    for withholding records. This is spreading and who
    knows where it will end.

    Reply
    1. Doug Handshoe

      I think the unfortunate answer is no one was auditing DMR. If there was an auditor IMHO, criminal charges would be appropriate.

      Reply
  4. russell1200

    Nonprofit agency/board support groups are often a fun and easy source for sordid news. Usually though the self dealing is at a low enough level, and the actors are small enough fish, that the news folk don’t spend the resources.

    Reply
  5. MUST BE NERVOUS

    Another name that comes up time after time and is in my opinion in the middle of a lot of the actions of DMR and DEQ here on the Coast is George Malvaney.He is the COO of U.S.Enviromental which was the BP cleanup main contractor.He is very active in state politics and is considered a “money bundler” for people running for srate wide office.Very colorful past.He was an admitted member of the KKK and convicted felon who has spent time in federal prison for being part of a plot to overthrow a government in the Caribbean.Google him for more info.He uses the services of Walker and Maxwell,has a personal repor with Trudy Fisher at DEQ where he was previously employed and has been seen with Billy Walker on many occaisions.He controlled who did what during the BP cleanup and continues to involve himself in a lot of things.We need to drill down.

    Reply
  6. MUST BE NERVOUS

    If you follow the BP money it goes right thru George Malvaney.Why? Who other than US Enviromental benifits? Why is he always seen on the Coast with Scott Walker and Billy Walker? His partying with Trudy on the weekends at his place is well known. How much money has he gathered for political campaigns since the BP spill? Doug,can you elaborate on your discomfort? Can you also post some of the online articles about Malvaney.We need to know who he answers to or maybe who answers to him.

    Reply
  7. lockemuptight

    With Goatherder attorney Henry Laird it seems like when it comes to judgmental opinions on high ethical standards of always providing sound legal reasoning/bases in a legal response it depends on which side of the jurisprudence pasture fence Laird finds himself on.

    He has no problem in the Goatherder litigation in stretching the interpretation of the SPEECH Act law and setting forth poor jurisprudence in his briefs to defend a BS Canadian judgment, however he is quick to criticize the poor legal reasoning and lack of jurisprudence given by the Miss.DMR in refusing to provide responsive documents to the Sun Herald.

    Lard may have escaped with his goathide intact in the U.S. Southern District of Mississippi but the U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals may be more apt to skin, heavily tan and mount his hide on their wall if Laird doesn’t find another pasture richer in goatherder jurisprudence.

    Reply
  8. catty14

    How many other DMRs are there in MS? These legislative created and empowered groups(boards, commissions, authorities)are answerable to no elected authority. This is a major defect of our current state charter that needs to be corrected. Only the fox is guarding the hen house. Meantime let’s hope we have a strong prosecutor to bring the guilty to stand trial….too many times we have witnessed political power has inserted itself in these investigations. The “street” knows several of the parties named in the DMR investigation were guilty of similar theft(Cedar Point) of tax dollars but went unscathed by a weak prosecutor. One has to wonder how many folks have fallen on their sword to cut a deal to avoid indictment and have coughed-up another act of fraud yet to be revealed? Let’s hope we see our tax dollars recovered this time through severe fines. But don’t you know the calls between here and D.C. and Jackson have been hot and heavy in an effort to call off the dogs? Meantime the Legislature must act to curtain the unbridled road to theft in the current make-up of these unanswerable boards, authorities and commissions which have large pockets of tax dollars with no overseeing controlling authority.

    Reply
  9. MUST BE NERVOUS

    By what authority did William Walker set up the foundation with an almost identical name as the DMR? I am sure he never thought the name alone would allow for him to deposit checks made out to one in the others bank account without questions.Did David Harris show him how to do it based on his experiance with foundations? I would be willing to bet there was a lot interaction between these two and the monies flowed between the foundations under the cover of boats,Harbor Landing and other activities.

    Reply
    1. Doug Handshoe

      His own authority. It is clear Walker’s Foundation was a sham designed to siphon money from DMR to his own personal benefit. Why do I say this? The Sun Herald story from early December, 2012 has all the indicators present:

      http://www.sunherald.com/2012/12/08/4348111/dmr-pours-more-than-15-million.html

      The Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation was incorporated almost nine years ago but is not considered a charity by the state, the Secretary of State’s Office said last week. The IRS revoked its tax-exempt status in 2010 for failing to file disclosure forms for three years in a row. In November, the IRS reinstated the foundation’s nonprofit status, an IRS spokesman said.

      In the lingo of the NOLA area blogosphere as coined by Jason over at AZ Walker’s Foundation is a classic “conprofit”. I guarantee you it is not the only one of its kind here in Mississippi.

      The larger question, given that Bolton is crawling with the FBI, is exactly what the heck is Tina Shumate still doing there given her role in the friends and family program and the fact she has to be one of the targets of the criminal investigation. She should have been suspended the same day as Walker.

      It was the new media that applied the public pressure that resulted in Walker’s suspension. As good as the Sun Herald beat reporting on DMR has been their editorial page has been that weak on DMR so it may well be the new media again has to lead the way here.

      Reply
  10. MUST BE NERVOUS

    I feel sure that Vernon “Dunb” ASSper and the other brainless members of the CMR did not know she was employed at the DMR until it was exposed in the press.She should be as they say” A GONE PECAN “.She will be sorry for her actions when her parents and sister are forced to testify against her or face certain prosecution.

    Reply
  11. MUST BE NERVOUS

    Yes, once they realized he was not sharing any of the money from his con profit foundation with them he was let go for good.But his wife wants a new five year term on the Ocean Springs School Board so she can continue all of the good they as a family do for the community.Ha Ha. Hope they are exposed to the max.The fraud,theft and damage done to the DMR is going to be tremendous

    Reply
  12. Xyzpdqpda

    It is not uncommon for nonprofits to support state activities. Generally, states are not allowed to accept ‘donations’ and such. So nonprofits will and help accomplish projects like, provide food for volunteers at a marsh planting – see the Florida nonprofit example provided by the Sun Herald. In theory, what Walker initially did was viewed as normal (save for him as director) but in fact, we see it is not.

    Bet Tina is squealing loud in a plea deal and why she is still there. Cuz the Walkers don’t care who goes down. Can’t wait to see the wife and son exposed too. Wonder if that expensive SUV had packed suitcases in the back?

    Reply
    1. lockemuptight

      Da’ bottom feeding bull croker has felt da’ hook in his tender mouth and is diving to lower depths in an attempt to shake da’ hook.

      It be a treble hook dough, ain’t no way to shake it bro’.

      The Feds need to keep dem’rod tips up, pressure on and reel these trash fish in as they be stinkin’ up da’ Gulf.

      Reply
  13. interested party

    The CMR has ousted Walker. That’s good, except they
    should all single file follow him out of the door.
    Watching the chairman (Asper) tell WLOX about 30
    minutes ago that they did not know what was happening, ruined my dinner. He wants us to believe he
    has been on a commission for 19 years, and still does
    not know what’s going on? As I said, let’s form a line
    for them and their so-called legal team, and follow
    Walker out the door. Truth is stranger than fiction
    always.

    Reply
    1. Doug Handshoe

      They need a way to exit with some honor. I wish a certain someone would chime in here (cue to Iggy) but Boards being dupes for those with far less honorable intentions is far more common than you’d think.

      I think I have a way to explain it where everyone will understand.

      Reply
  14. Ignatius

    Funny Doug I just put up a post that I ended with this question….Are the DMR board being dupes?

    There is a real problem with the truth. It’s gonna come out so the best thing to do is be in front of it.

    IJR

    Reply
  15. Pingback: Outtings of on Line players and DMR happenings | ignatiusjeffreilly.org

  16. interested party

    Just received an email from the Sun-Herald. They have
    filed suit against the DMR for public records in
    Chancery Court in Harrison County.
    The phone lines between Gulfport and Jackson will be
    smokin trying to keep these records under wraps!!

    Reply
    1. Doug Handshoe

      State Agency so this case is going up to Jackson. The DMR double dog dared ‘em to sue. This is gonna be fun.

      Reply
    1. Doug Handshoe

      Added 3 pages total. I noticed one or two new paragraphs. To amend a complaint the same day it is filed says something about the thought process that went into the first complaint IMHO.

      What’s interesting is that while the DMR is a state agency, it is headquartered in Harrison County so the suit may just be heard down here instead of Jackson. This is not a slam dunk case by any stretch as General Hood can argue releasing the records could endanger the investigation:

      http://www.ethics.state.ms.us/ethics/ethics.nsf/PageSection/A_records_entire_pub_rec_act/$FILE/Public%20Records%20Act.htm?OpenElement#S_25_61_11

      (f) “Investigative report” means records of a law enforcement agency containing information beyond the scope of the matters contained in an incident report, and generally will include, but not be limited to, the following matters if beyond the scope of the matters contained in an incident report:
      (i) Records that are compiled in the process of detecting and investigating any unlawful activity or alleged unlawful activity, the disclosure of which would harm the investigation which may include crime scene reports and demonstrative evidence;

      (ii) Records that would reveal the identity of informants and/or witnesses;

      (iii) Records that would prematurely release information that would impede the public body’s enforcement, investigative or detection efforts;

      (iv) Records that would disclose investigatory techniques and/or results of investigative techniques;

      (v) Records that would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;

      (vi) Records that would endanger the life or safety of a public official or law enforcement personnel, or confidential informants or witnesses;

      (vii) Records pertaining to quality control or PEER review activities; or

      (viii) Records that would impede or jeopardize a prosecutor’s ability to prosecute the alleged offense.

      and

      Reply
  17. Ignatius

    Doug
    If we are speaking of records that 1) existed prior to any criminal investigation or 2) Were compiled as route agency business, then even if they are now being examined for crimianal activity, I
    would think they would be subject to Public Records Law.
    The fact they are being examined by a law enforcement agency should not bar the agency in question from having to produce them. The Investigative agency would not but I would think the
    parent agency would.
    IJR

    Reply
    1. Doug Handshoe

      Not saying I disagree as a matter of public policy Iggy but the law reads like Hood has a leg to stand on in a courtroom. And heck, if they win, that means I can send in my own PRR. :-)

      Its a win-win for Slabbed either way.

      Reply
  18. concerned taxpayer

    Sorry for incomplete attachment Here it is again-http//photos.gulflive.com/mississippi.press/2012/05jolly_fitch_1.html

    Reply
  19. concerned taxpayer

    Here is another great photo of DMR family and friends getting their Jolly on. http//photos.gulflive.com/mississippi.press/2012/05jolly_walker_solangi.html

    Reply
  20. interested party

    Miracles never cease. The Sun-Herald actually printed
    a letter to the editor citing the land sale in
    Bay St. Louis of the old Bay Tech Building. Hope it
    won’t take two years to get to the bottom of this one.
    Lee and Nelson (if they were allowed) could have a
    field day with it.

    Reply
    1. interested party

      Pray tell,the Sun-Herald runs a story this morning,
      Sat. Jan.19,a day after it hit the news in
      New Orleans, that Ray Nagin, is accused of some
      $160,000 in “misconduct.” But right under their noses
      here in Hancock County (bet they have more subscribers
      here than in N.O.) the Bay Tech Fiasco was a cool
      quarter million!!! And the Bay Tech “business”was
      Jume of 2012!!

      Reply

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