By Sun Herald
The Picayune Item
State Auditor Stacey Pickering has a $700,000 question to answer. Why did he settle a claim for more than $1 million in misappropriated or misspent public money for less than $300,000?
The question arises from last week’s release of Pickering’s annual Audit Exceptions Report, which describes itself as “A legally mandated account of misappropriated or misspent public funds and the actions taken by the Office of the State Auditor for their recovery and their return to the appropriate entities in Fiscal Year 2013.”
Underscoring our contention that every penny of public money should be accounted for, the report shows that Pickering’s office required someone at Mississippi State University to repay $2.59 for “missing equipment.”
Most of the entries in the report, however, are much more serious. Such as this one. ...
So how does nearly $300,000 repay more than $1 million?
Pickering told the Sun Herald on Friday that “by no means was the state made whole” by the boat proceeds and “this does not wrap up everything.”
But when his office was asked for a copy of the “negotiated settlement,” we were told that would require a formal, written request.
At the beginning of his report, Pickering states: “The Office of the State Auditor continues to serve as a watchdog organization to ensure that tax dollars are protected, and we pledge to perform our jobs with integrity, honesty and a commitment to excellence. We continue to protect the public’s trust through evaluations of accounting practices and aggressive investigations of alleged wrongdoing. We believe the taxpayers of Mississippi deserve no less.”
So do we, Pickering.
Which is why, on their behalf, we again ask: What’s the status of the unpaid $700,000?