Reeves said Mississippi doesn’t need legal representation that is focused on trying to be an informant for a “left-wing blog.”
On Thursday, Governor Tate Reeves thoroughly addressed the non-renewal of Mississippi Department of Human Services outside attorney Brad Pigott’s legal services contract that has sent some media outlets into a frenzy.
MDHS is seeking to recoup millions of misspent welfare dollars via a civil suit. It is the state’s single largest case of waste, fraud and abuse ever investigated by the State Auditor.
Last week, Pigott was notified by MDHS that his one-year contract would be up and not renewed. MDHS Executive Director Bob Anderson told Y’all Politics that Pigott made decisions about the litigation and filed pleadings without any prior dialogue with officials at MDHS.
“When it becomes apparent that the client and the lawyer are not on the same page, the client has every right to find another attorney,” Anderson said.
The non-renewal led to Pigott running to Mississippi Today to claim that the move was politically motivated, telling the media outlet, “I am sure they can find a loyal Republican lawyer to do the work.”
Since then, the media establishment have sought to paint Reeves in the light of Pigott’s claims.
But Governor Reeves said in a press gaggle at the Neshoba County Fair that the way in which Pigott has acted since his non-renewal proves he was more interested in chasing a political angle and getting his name in the press than properly representing the State.
“I didn’t go to law school and I ain’t that smart, but I have heard of attorney client privilege,” Reeves said. “The way in which the attorney has acted since his contract was non-renewed has proven to a lot of people of why he is the absolute wrong person to represent the State. He is the wrong person to represent the taxpayers.”
Governor Reeves went on to say that some media outlets have “made stuff up” about Pigott’s non-renewal, adding that the state doesn’t need legal representation that is focused on trying to be an informant for a “left-wing blog.”
“He is much more interested in chase a political angle than he is on focusing on doing what’s best for the State,” Reeves said. “There are outlets that have just made stuff up about why he was not renewed. Just made it up and he’s quoted in every article. We don’t need a lawyer that focused on trying to be a confidential informant or a source for a left-wing blog. We need a lawyer that’s focused on protecting Mississippi’s taxpayers’ interest. Period.”
Governor Reeves said firmly that he is committed to seeing the case through no matter where it leads in an effort to recover any and all funds that were improperly spent through MDHS.
According to Governor Reeves and State Auditor Shad White, Mississippi’s investigation into the MDHS scandal has been reviewed by federal authorities, including the FBI, and is also being handled by State prosecutors in the Attorney General’s office and the Hinds County District Attorney’s office. All interested parties will continue to be involved.
As for MDHS and new outside legal services, Governor Reeves said MDHS will not be hiring another “semi-retired, solo practitioner” like Pigott but will engage a more capable law firm to continue the case. He said that announcement is forthcoming.
You can watch the full remarks by Governor Reeves below.