JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – This year’s State Auditor’s race includes incumbent Shad White (R-Miss.) and Democratic challenger Larry Bradford.
From uncovering the largest fraud scheme in state history to releasing scathing reports about how Mississippi’s tax dollars are spent, White’s first term has been full of headlines and criticism.
He’s running for re-election, hoping to get another four years at addressing some of the biggest issues in Mississippi.
“In the last five years since I’ve been in office, we’ve recovered about $70 million of taxpayer funds. That’s more than any other five year period in the history of the office. The people we’ve investigated have been sentenced collectively to hundreds of years of prison time. We put a stop to the largest public fraud scheme in the history of the state,” White explained.
The uncovering of the sprawling welfare scandal has drawn national attention and resulted in seven guilty pleas. As the investigation continues, White has received criticism for perceived inaction.
“I’m not a prosecutor, so I don’t get to decide how fast somebody gets indicted or how fast they go to jail or anything like that,” he said. “We just dig up the facts. We got a very narrow tip in the summer of 2019 that maybe something was going on with welfare dollars. By January, we had proven that there was a multi-million dollar welfare fraud scandal going on. Worked with the local D.A., and he put a stop to the flow of the money. If anybody thinks that they could do that job faster, I think you’re out of your mind. Folks need to channel that frustration to the folks who are making the decisions, not to the team here at the Auditor’s office who did their job incredibly well.”
White also addressed hot button issues, especially among Mississippi’s public universities. One report questioned how much state schools spend on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Programs. Another recommended defunding certain Liberal Arts degrees.
“The state spent somewhere between $1.5 and $2 billion on higher education. That’s a lot of money, and so, we’re going to spend a lot of money on something. I think we ought to be smart about how we’re spending those dollars. Let’s focus dollars on creating degree programs, propping up degree programs, that prepare people for jobs that actually exist here in Mississippi,” White said.
Moving forward, he hopes to innovate the Auditor’s office while keeping it’s original vision.
“We need to use technology, and we need to use it to uncover even more fraud, waste and abuse. You’re going to see this office focus a lot on identifying waste in government. We’ll look at how cell phones are being managed, state owned cell phones. We’re looking at how agencies are managing vehicle fleets and cars. We’re going to continue to focus on good, clear mistake free investigations that tackle the biggest cases and the biggest problems in the state,” White stated.
WJTV 12 News will speak with Bradford on Monday, October 23. The General Election is set for Tuesday, November 7, 2023.