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Pickering stops in Brookhaven

In his seven years as state auditor, Stacy Pickering and his team have recovered $21 million that was misspent and removed 24 public officials from office.

Pickering spoke to a joint meeting of the Noon Lion’s Club and the Servitium Club at lunch Tuesday. Pickering said his job is to ensure each taxpayer dollar is accounted for and used appropriately.

“I got into politics so I could brag about my kids,” he said before talking about his daughter and two sons. “That’s really what this is all about – our kids.”

He said his office has managed to recover more money than previous administrations.

“That’s not a brag on Stacy, that’s a brag on the staff,” he said.

His staff is responsible for auditing federal money as well as performing audits to maintain the state’s bond rating. The bond rating affects the public sector’s ability to borrow money. Pickering also provides education opportunities to help train public officials.

“When it comes to corruption, ignorance is not an excuse,” he said.

Pickering also addressed an article that has been popular on social media over the past year that names Mississippi as one of the most corrupt states. Pickering said the first issue with that article is that it is based on a study that was stopped in 2007. Secondly, the statistics are based on conviction rates. Pickering said that just proves that they enforce their corruption laws. Pickering then cited a 2012 study by Rutgers University that named Mississippi as one of the top 10 at enforcing corruption laws.

Pickering said that after Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi was predicted to misuse or lose 10 percent of federal money received. The actual number came in at .5 percent. He said when the federal government distributed $21 million to Mississippi as part of the American Recovery Act, Mississippi was predicted to misuse 10 percent. Once again, Mississippi came in at .5 percent. Pickering said that Louisiana’s rate came in at 13 percent.

“Our fellow Mississippians did us proud,” he said.

Pickering, who is running for re-election, will face Mary Hawkins Butler in the Republican primary in August. Jocelyn Pepper, Democrat, and Lajena Walley, Reform, also are running for the position.