Reeves defends decision to dismiss lawyer in DHS case, claims man had ‘political angle’

Reeves defends decision to dismiss lawyer in DHS case, claims man had ‘political angle’
Reeves defends decision to dismiss lawyer in DHS case, claims man had ‘political angle’(WLBT)
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 7:17 PM CDT
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NESHOBA COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - While plenty of topics and partisan talking points made the rounds during Thursday’s political speeches at the Neshoba County Fair, one topic got no comment on the stage whatsoever: the firing of Brad Pigott, a lawyer investigating the Department of Human Services fraud scandal and whether Gov. Tate Reeves ultimately made that decision.

“I think that firing him was a mistake. You know, from the very beginning of the DHS case, my position was that it was going to be important to have a bipartisan group of people look at that case, it was going to be important to have a variety of different prosecutors and law enforcement entities looking at that case,” State Auditor Shad White said to a group of reporters after his speech.

White said that the bipartisan group would have given more Mississippians confidence that every person had been thoroughly investigated in the scandal.

“Look, I can’t worry too much about what the state auditor said,” Reeves said to reporters Thursday.

Reeves said he believes some point after DHS hired Pigott, a former federal prosecutor appointed by former President Bill Clinton, his actions turned partisan.

“The way in which the attorney has acted since his contract was not renewed has proven to a lot of people why he is the absolutely wrong person to represent the state,” Reeves said. “He is the wrong person to represent the taxpayers because he is much more interested in chasing a political angle than he is in focusing on doing what’s best for the state.”

Reeves said Pigott -- though the governor never actually said the man’s name during Thursday’s interview -- wanted to share what he found with reporters.

“He seemed much more focused on the political side of things, he seemed much more interested in getting his name in print, and hopefully bigger and bigger print than, than any Mississippi stories. He wants to go national,” Reeves said.

Reeves told reporters they would find someone objective to replace Pigott in pursuing the civil case and also confirmed several federal agencies are looking into criminal aspects of the largest public embezzlement scheme in state history.

“The vast majority of the criminal investigation are presumed, is ongoing, and is being done by those associated with DOJ, FBI, HHS Fraud Unit, the Department of Justice has 100,000 people who work for them. Do you really think that one lawyer that is a sole practitioner, that semi-retired is going to thwart the investigation here?” Reeves said.

The governor’s comments came on the last day of political speeches at the Neshoba County Fair.

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