Laying down their cards: “What’s next with DMR investigations?”

Yesterday Paul Hampton and Karen Nelson teamed up in a What’s Next with DMR piece for the Sunday Sun Herald and in it the paper laid a few cards down on the table.  You see folks, I have a source that has been pretty accurate for certain aspects of the DMR investigation and one of the last things this person shared with me was that the public records that are subject to the Sun Herald’s lawsuit against DMR that were subsequently subpoenaed by the US Attorney to thwart the paper getting access to them contained absolutely no smoking guns or evidence of additional illegal activity.

If that is the case then the natural question that comes to mind is exactly WTF Stacey Pickering and company are doing defying the orders of Chancery Court Judge Jennifer Schloegel to turn those records over for the inspection by the Sun Herald.  Yesterday when the Sun Herald laid a couple cards down it also confirmed something else the same source mentioned to me, namely that many of the documents sought by the Sun Herald were already in their possession via leak.  Here is the salient excerpt:

But through records leaked to the newspaper, the Sun Herald learned about a few things Walker bought through the fund — a $27,500 sponsorship for the 11th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment in Washington, D.C.; a work computer for the daughter of a friend and neighbor employed by the DMR; and the hiring of special contract workers.

Nothing in the above indicates illegal activity IMHO, perhaps a wasting of tax dollars but nothing illegal on its face.  Worth noting is these records have been gathering dust for almost a year and evidently neither the State or Feds had done anything with them until the Sun Herald gained court ordered access. This is another factor as to why that Federal subpoena for those public records is such a curiosity.

The same article quotes Auditor Pickering as saying the indictments which resulted from his office’s year long investigation “speak for themselves”. Indeed they do because the results of said investigation resulted in charges that a handful of former employees padded up their travel by $175 and others by slightly larger amounts.  The total of the public funds at stake from these indictments approximates $5,000. I absolutely agree with Auditor Pickering these indictments do indeed “speak for themselves”. The words that comes to mind is pathetic given the resources expended by Auditor Pickering’s Office on both the investigation and defending the Sun Herald’s public records lawsuit, which his office lost.

As a seasoned observer I’d caution the general public against expecting any other criminal charges in this matter, state or federal because I do not see anything else coming given the length of the investigation and the indictments unsealed to date. If it happens I’ll be greatly surprised.

None of this means there isn’t more to come because there always is more to come in these type matters.  The depth of the ethical compromises at the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, which allowed itself to become party to a transaction which has resulted in criminal indictments will certainly be revealed for instance.  Going along to get along is the first step down a slippery slope to the “mudhole” and that is exactly where Executive Director Judy Steckler has lead the organization, which once enjoyed a sterling reputation for the environmental work the Land Trust did in service to the community. To the extent the Walker’s political influence stretched across the coast there is much “mudhole” potential here.

Stay tuned.

16 thoughts on “Laying down their cards: “What’s next with DMR investigations?””

  1. Doug,
    Do you think this investigation, maybe with regard to CIAP funds, could involve Hancock County in any way?
    I was just wondering since you referenced Walker’s potential influence across the Coast.

    1. Frank Corder at YallPolitics wrote this the other day:

      Truth be told, these indictments should make a number of related persons question their ties. Smoke has billowed around the Walkers for many years. Some only saw their philanthropic good deeds and sought inclusion. Others saw the truth behind the masks, making them outsiders.

      Being from the coast and knowing how closely knit the Walkers are with a number of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson County businesses, banks, nonprofits, schools, and media guys it makes one wonder just how much further this investigation could go if authorities dug just a little deeper.

      I agree with Frank on that point and it is clear the investigation stopped way short. Meet the investigative team for Auditor Pickering. No way those guys could bag something so massive and complex.

      Hancock County was mentioned in the Final IG report but I do not expect it to surface in the criminal matters filed to this point.

  2. Since the yachts were outfitted with federal funds, I am very sure that much more is to come about the CONprofit deeds that Mr. Pickering has overlooked (or should I say “deemed not important”). I also feel that the reason he does not want the records in the hands of the SH is because the SH already has most of those papers and if they compare and anything is changed or missing, it could present a problem. In my opinion, I think that maybe the SH is waiting to see how honest Mr. Pickering is. I hope the Judge that ordered the records to be released to the SH sticks to her guns. Also in my opinion, I don’t see how Mr. Pickering has any authority to slap down her ruling. Maybe he doesn’t think a lady Judge’s opinion is worthy??? Maybe he thought she was joking??? Maybe he thinks he’s above the law??? Hmmmm…

  3. “Maybe he thinks he’s above the law.” is the correct analysis Charlene.

    Again, unless the Feds bring charges and issue out sentences, Pickering will do nothing. Between him and Bryant, we have elected ‘Do Nothing’ politicians. It appears we could at least do better than these 2 imbeciles.

  4. I think all would agree at this point that the investigation by the Ms. State Auditor took too long and cost too much to fall this short. Many questions remain about all of the other suspected misuses of the taxpayers resources. Pickering could have saved money by just punting in the beginning to the FBI. They have people that are much better qualified than anyone on his staff and are not influenced by politics. I believe what has gone on with Pickering’s investigation was an attempt to throw the public a bone but stopped short on purpose without involving other known participants.We must remember that an investigation was well under way by federal authorities when Pickering injected his agency and in my opinion slowed it down. When he settled for nothing on the leased boats I sensed his weakness. He did not stand up for the people but fell for the conprofit members. Now you have indicted people who are supposed to have padded travel expenses for a few thousand dollars that will cost 500 times that amount to investigate and prosecute? Sad day for the taxpayers.

    1. I have been sitting back reading and one thing I have noticed is the word “padded” associated with travel quite often. Although this may be a case for 1 or 2 but it is certainly plausible to also assume these travel claims could have contained simple mistakes that were not caught during processing. More especially if someone other than the traveler completed the paperwork. That happens quite often in government and in the corporate world.

          1. So are you thinking there is a legitimate reason? Could this be considered pressure tactics? For example Samantha Hebert, almost the same amount as Grant Larsen but only a demand for repayment. What is up with that? You would think Hebert would be a pawn used to get her sister to talk.

          2. So are you thinking there is a legitimate reason? Could this be considered pressure tactics? For example Samantha Hebert, almost the same amount as Grant Larsen but only a demand for repayment. What is up with that? You would think Hebert would be a pawn used to get her sister to talk.

  5. Biloxi Blues,
    From D.C. on down, the Sad Days are now out numbering the Glad ones, especially where waste of tax dollars is concerned. From the 16 Democrats that are now thinking of all kind of ways to improve the
    Affordable Care Act to these Dip Doos in Jackson who don’t have the decency to do what is right to begin with. The 16 Dems are just having the vapors over their upcoming elections this time next year—it’s not about the folks, or they would have read the healthcare bill before they passed it. And that bunch in Jackson is beyond description–I’m at a loss for words.

    1. All the days are sad when you look at them thru the political prism. Every aspect of government at all levels is a disappointment. It will not last because with all of the waste, graft and overspending it will eventually collapse. The desire to change direction does not seem to exist.

  6. A little follow-up seems in order. The Sun Herald article on What Happens Next concludes with a paragraph that among the things purchased out of Bill Walker’s 601 account was $27,500 sponsorship of a particular conference. I googled that conference web site. They meticulously list all of the sponsorships, collaborators, and have levels of support with the logos of lots of federal science agencies. There is NO MENTION of this DMR sponsorship at all. So did this expenditure really go to that organization? This seems like a logical and easy thing to track down. These are all federal agencies with lots of grant money. Was this how MaMa Walker got “her grants” that USM gave to IMMS? Did Bill Walker pay off federal science people to get the Mrs. her money? Where did this $27,500 go?

      1. Yup. There was certainly a reason for that Federal subpoena, the question in my mind is whether or not it was good reason. This much is for sure, the clock is ticking on Mr. Dowdy to produce some indictments from those records. I’m not holding my breath waiting for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *