A defendant in the Mississippi welfare scandal lawsuit has filed a lawsuit against Governor Tate Reeves, accusing him of illegally controlling the case to protect himself and political allies, including former Governor Phil Bryant and Republican-leaning SuperTalk radio. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to remove Reeves from control of the state’s lawsuit and demands that he repay millions of dollars spent on a private audit and law firm.
The lawsuit also includes previously undisclosed text messages involving Reeves from officials at Prevacus, a drug company that allegedly received illegal welfare funds. The messages suggest that Bryant influenced Prevacus to support Reeves in order to continue receiving welfare funds. The lawsuit claims that Reeves is refusing to sue Bryant, despite overwhelming evidence of his involvement in funding the drug company and allocating welfare funds for a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, where both Bryant and Brett Favre attended.
The lawsuit was filed by Austin Smith, the nephew of convicted former welfare chief John Davis and former manager of two programs under investigation. Smith is one of 47 defendants from whom the state is seeking to recover misspent or stolen welfare money. The lawsuit alleges that Reeves is neglecting to sue Telesouth Communications Inc., the operator of SuperTalk radio, which received $600,000 in welfare funds for advertising that violated federal regulations.
Reeves had previously taken control of the state investigation and lawsuit to recover stolen welfare funds. The Mississippi Department of Human Services, responsible for welfare spending, reports to the governor’s office. The lawsuit claims that Reeves lacked the legal authority to spend $2 million in welfare funds on a private accounting firm to duplicate an audit already conducted by the state auditor.
Reeves’ office responded briefly to the lawsuit, stating that the state is committed to recovering misspent funds. His campaign later issued a statement emphasizing his dedication to addressing the scandal. Attorney Jim Waide, representing Austin Smith, has previously argued that Reeves and Bryant should be defendants in the state’s welfare lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Reeves’ control of the case is an abuse of process, arbitrary government action, and a denial of equal protection under the law. It claims that by not suing politically powerful entities like Bryant and SuperTalk radio while targeting less influential defendants, Reeves is engaging in unfair practices.