This is one of the most difficult endorsements we have made. In the Republican nomination for state auditor, neither candidate is someone we would select for this office.
Incumbent Stacey Pickering is currently dogged with too many questions about no-bid contracts using state funds and the possibility of illegal campaign expenditures, both of which are the target of an FBI investigation.
Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, however, is clearly only in this race because she disagrees with Pickering’s findings when he audited the Madison County Board of Supervisors and their contracts with county engineer Rudy Warnock. Butler has even said she would immediately launch an investigation into Madison County if elected, which is tantamount to her admitting she will use her state office for what everyone knows has become a personal vendetta.
Pickering’s record is less than stellar. Our own investigation into no-bid contracts showed his office was the worst in the state when it came to questionable contracts. Former office workers were transferred to contractual employment while they worked congressional campaigns. Former campaign workers were given nearly $100,000 contracts to serve as ambassadors of the state auditor, the contract actually listing speaking at civic clubs as part of the contract.
Furthermore, we have seen some of the worst corruption by state leaders while Pickering has served as state auditor. He likes to boast of recovering more than $21 million for state taxpayers, but he has failed when it came to rooting out major corruption in the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the Department of Marine Resources. It’s been the FBI, not Pickering’s office, that has initiated and led these investigations. Furthermore, it took a judge to force him to release public documents in the DMR case.
Pickering is now dogged with a lack of trust — in public finances, public records and campaign expenditures. He does not deserve his party’s nomination.
While we have many concerns with Butler, she has enjoyed tremendous success in shaping Madison into one of the state’s fastest-growing and most affluent cities. Too, we believe her when she says she has no higher political ambitions than the auditor’s office. For that reason, she can be relentless at rooting out corruption. If she will take her role seriously and not use her office for political persecutions, she could be a tremendous breath of fresh air in state politics.