The most corrupt, most broken Republican state government in America continues to get worse as the nation's poorest state, Mississippi, deals with twin scandals of welfare money embezzlement and state capital Jackson's wrecked water system, and this is coming from someone who has lived in KY for the last 16 years.
First up, the state welfare director that oversaw the slush fund is pleading guilty to both state and federal charges and cooperating with prosecutors.
Former welfare agency director John Davis is set to plead guilty on Thursday to two federal charges and 18 state counts of fraud or conspiracy related to his role in the Mississippi welfare scandal, according to separate federal and state court filings.
The new federal charges pertain to welfare funds Davis allegedly helped funnel to the companies of retired professional wrestler Ted “Teddy” DiBiase Jr., son of famed WWE wrestler Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase. Davis and Teddy DiBiase Jr. had developed a close relationship during Davis’ term as welfare director from 2016 to 2019, as Mississippi Today has reported in its investigative series “The Backchannel.”
Davis instructed two nonprofits receiving tens of millions in welfare funds from his department to pay Teddy DiBiase Jr. under what the federal court filing called “sham contracts” to deliver personal development courses to state employees and a program for inner-city youth, “regardless of whether any work had been performed and knowing that no work would ever be performed.”
Davis, who had not previously faced federal charges for his role in the welfare scandal, is the latest defendant to plead guilty and agree to aid prosecutors. In April, Nancy and Zach New pleaded guilty to state charges in the welfare case as well as to separate federal fraud charges they faced related to public school funding. The News are cooperating with federal investigators, who continue to probe the welfare scheme and who else may have been involved.
The federal bill of information unsealed Wednesday, to which Davis is set to plead guilty, also describes four unnamed co-conspirators in the scheme. Based on the incorporation dates provided in the filing for the co-conspirators’ affiliated organizations or companies, Mississippi Today identified three of the alleged co-conspirators as Nancy New, director of Mississippi Community Education Center; Christi Webb, director of Family Resource Center of North Mississippi; and Teddy DiBiase Jr., owner of Priceless Ventures, LLC and Familiae Orientem, LLC.
A fourth unnamed co-conspirator, a resident of Hinds County, is unidentifiable in the filing.
Davis and the three alleged co-conspirators are each facing civil charges in an ongoing lawsuit Mississippi Department of Human Services is bringing in an attempt to recoup welfare money from people who received it improperly.
“As a result of the actions of DAVIS, the Co-Conspirators, and others, millions of dollars in federal safety-net funds were diverted from needy families and low-income individuals in Mississippi,” the federal filing reads.
The Brett Favre stuff is only $3-4 million of the $77 million stolen. A lot of people are going to jail on this one, folks.
A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday seeking $5 million in damages related to Jackson's ongoing water crisis.
The lawsuit alleges the city of Jackson's water supply has been neglected for decades, culminating in its complete shutdown in August 2022. Before the water supply failure, the lawsuit states Jackson's water was not fit for human consumption due to high levels of lead and other contaminants.
The plaintiffs claim they were poisoned by lead and other contaminants in Jackson's drinking water.
"This didn't start a couple weeks ago. This started years ago," said lead plaintiff Priscilla Sterling.
The lawsuit names the city of Jackson, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, former mayor Tony Yarber, former public works directors Kishia Powell, Robert Miller and Jerriot Smash; Siemens Corporation, Siemens Industry, Inc., and Trilogy Engineering Services LLC as defendants.
House appropriators are considering sending as much as $200 million to address the drinking water crisis in Jackson, Miss., as part of the stop-gap spending measure to fund the government past Sept. 30.
Documents obtained by POLITICO show draft language that would deliver the money directly from EPA to the city, bypassing the Republican-controlled state government. Democrats, including Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), have accused the state of withholding resources from the majority Black state capital.
The numbers: Thompson told POLITICO he is pushing for $200 million in emergency funds for a first phase to address the dilapidated water infrastructure in Jackson.
Jackson’s 150,000 residents were without drinking water for weeks this summer after flooding on the Pearl River caused the system’s water pressure to drop precipitously. The city has also issued a series of boil water orders throughout the year due to dangerous water quality.
Jackson’s water system, which was built in 1914, is in a dire state of disrepair, according to a 2020 EPA review. The total cost for upgrading it is unclear, but estimates have ranged as high as $1 billion. The city has not completed a long-term plan for addressing its problems. Thompson said $200 million is “what appears to be reasonable” now, in the absence of a plan.
Keep in mind that the victims in both of these scandals are some of Mississippi's poorest Black communities. It's 2022, and Republican environmental and economic racism continues in full swing across red state after red state.
It has all my life, and it will continue well after we're all gone.