In a separate interview, Butler said finance records show that since 2007, Pickering has used campaign money to pay tens of thousands of dollars in living expenses.

“Mr. Pickering is doing exactly what he is arresting other people for doing, and he has been caught red-handed,” Butler told AP. “The record is there. He has used his campaign funds to live off of for years. He has used it as a slush fund. He can say whatever he wants to say. The people of this state deserve an explanation of his actions.”

Pickering said he has not tried to hide anything. For example, he said, his campaign bought a used BMW 325i from a former campaign worker, Tiffany Parrish of Laurel. He acknowledged Friday that the purchase is listed on a campaign finance report as a June 2011 payment of $8,900 to Parish for “fundraising,” but he said that was a clerical error he intends to correct.

The Clarion-Ledger first reported on its website Thursday (http://on.thec-l.com/1MpEn4T ) that Parrish said she had been interviewed by the FBI about Pickering’s campaign spending. She confirmed that in an email to AP on Friday, saying agents contacted her in March.

“I was asked a number of questions regarding many items on his campaign finance reports,” Parrish said in the email.

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