The ongoing criminal and civil cases related to the state’s welfare fraud scheme played a significant role in the political speeches and statements at the Neshoba County Fair on Thursday.
The welfare scandal, much of which was uncovered by Mississippi Today reporter Anna Wolfe, escalated earlier this week when the state chose not to renew its contract with an attorney investigating the case, who had been seeking a subpoena against the former Gov. Phil Bryant.
The attorney, Brad Pigott, told Mississippi Today he believes he was fired due to seeking the subpoena.
During his speech at the fair, State Auditor Shad White cited the investigation into the fraud scheme as a key accomplishment of his office.
“We have uncovered and put a stop to the largest fraud scheme in the history of the state of Mississippi,” White said.
He went on the address complaints that not enough people had been charged, saying those decisions are made by local district attorneys and the state attorney general‘s office.
“We do not get to choose who gets prosecuted,” White said. “We audit.”
Attorney General Lynn Fitch responded to those comments following her speech.
“Certainly the AG’s office is very engaged, but it’s a pending investigation and I can’t comment on pending investigations,” Fitch said.
As for the termination of Pigott, Fitch said he was not fired.
“Technically, the contract expired,” Fitch said.
Gov. Tate Reeves touched on why Pigott’s contract was allowed to expire without being renewed.