Reeves, 'Elvis' square off
Thursday, July 30, 2015 1:00 AM
Democrats cannot stand fiscal responsibility, Republicans don't want anything to do with Obamacare and Republicans are liars were the messages Wednesday morning from three candidates with eyes on the Lieutenant Governor's office during the second day of political speaking under the Pavilion on Founders Square.
Tate Reeves gets swarmed by media Wednesday morning during the second day of political speeches.
Ending the morning session of speeches, incumbent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told the crowd that they elected him to make sure taxpayers' dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. He told Fairgoers he had worked to cut taxes calling it an investment.
"Now, the naysayers believe we can't cut taxes," Reeves said. "They want to keep feeding the beast of government because they think they know how to spend your money better than you do. The Democrats say taxes cannot be cut because they've already spent the money."
Reeves said under the Republican leadership, Mississippi will spend $400 million more on education than ever before this year.
"You won't read about this in the newspapers," he said. "We know the key to our prosperity is a strong workforce, and a strong workforce starts with educating our children. I will fight for more dollars in the classroom, and more importantly, I will fight for positive outcomes for students."
Democratic candidate Tim Johnson, an Elvis impersonator and former Republican state senator, announced earlier this year his switch to the blue party after the GOP-led state legislature failed to expand Medicaid.
"My mother had a stroke and my sister was able to drive her to the hospital in Kosciusko, which has had some financial trouble," Johnson told the crowd. "What if that hospital would've closed and my sister would've had to drive my mother to Jackson or all the way up to Tupelo when that happened?"
Johnson said expanding Medicaid would have created 20,000 jobs.
"That's three Nissans," he said. "This is party politics over people. Because it's the Affordable Care Act, they won't have anything to do with it."
Closing his stump speech, Johnson sang "How Great Thou Art" with his Elvis-like voice for his mother who was present in the audience and his father who died when Johnson was three-years-old. The crowd joined with him singing the hymn.
Libertarian candidate Ron Williams called the Republican party liars referring to the Ten Commandments, "Thou shall not bear false witness."
Williams said $700 million was wasted in Gulfport on the Port of Gulfport Expansion Project and called the Kemper County Coal Plant a "boondoggle."
"Under our Republican leadership, they didn't know how much it would cost," Williams said of both projects. "I wanted to trust the Republican Party, but you can't trust them."
Earlier, Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler, a candidate for State Auditor, said it is important that questions get answered about her challenger and incumbent State Auditor Stacey Pickering's campaign finance reports.
Pickering has come under fire recently for buying a BMW with campaign monies labeling it as a "fundraising fee expense."
"If those funds are used for that, you have to follow the law. You have to pay income taxes on them," Hawkins-Butler said.
She said Pickering spent over $113,000 in reimbursements to himself in three years while Gov. Phil Bryant has only reimbursed himself $5,500 in five years.
Hawkins-Butler criticized the State Auditor for auditing counties and municipalities, but not state agencies.
"It's easy to go get the low hanging fruit, and let the big fish go," Hawkins-Butler said noting she will be "your watchdog."
Pickering called Hawkins-Butler's speech "a lot of ranting and raving."
He pointed to his office's work in the aftermath of Katrina where some people made fraudulent damage claims.
"FEMA predicted we would have 10 percent fraud, but we had half of a percent fraud," he said.
A sign of his success as State Auditor came from receiving two of the top national awards for accountability and Rutgers University labeling Mississippi as the sixth best state in enforcing accountability laws, he said noting his office has recovered $24 million in eight years.
"We will make sure Mississippi will continue to raise the bar in enforcing accountability," Pickering said.
Pickering never addressed the controversy surrounding his campaign finance reports.
After a break for Meridian Day, Republican candidate Mike Hurst challenged Democrat incumbent Attorney General Jim Hood to reveal what his $209,000 in unitemized disbursements was used for.
"Now, that might be reasonable, except those were not election years," Hurst said of the $209,000. "There was no significant campaign for him to run."
Hurst said the state's campaign finance laws mean nothing if "your entire campaign" can be paid for on a credit card and no one knows how the money was spent.
"Otherwise, there will be a shadow of corruption on the Office of Attorney General," he said. "The Office of Attorney General should be the gold standard of ethics and this looks very suspicious."
Hood told Fairgoers that there's somebody in his office that will fight for Mississippians.
"Just look at the BP settlement," he said. "We told BP that we are not going to settle unless our communities are going to be taken care of."
In response to Google claiming Hood was smearing their corporation's name, he said illegal drugs can be bought and his investigators have done that.
Hood said a young man who worked for him and overdosed on heroin had searched for the drug using Google on his computer.
"This young man served two tours of duty in Iraq and was put on painkillers," he said. "When the painkillers were not prescribed to him, he went on heroin. He eventually cleaned up, but I guess the stress from law school got him back on heroin."
Hood never acknowledged campaign finance report allegations by his opponent.