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Associated Press: Mississippi Gave Tate Reeves Donor Hundreds of Thousands in Taxpayer-Funded Incentives

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Associated Press: Mississippi Gave Tate Reeves Donor Hundreds of Thousands in Taxpayer-Funded Incentives

A bombshell new Associated Press investigation has uncovered yet another instance of Gov. Tate Reeves using taxpayer dollars to reward one of his political allies.

In 2020, the Mississippi Development Authority awarded $333,000 in financial incentives to a shipbuilding company with a history of failed ventures, just days after the president of the company’s parent company donated $10,000 to Reeves’ campaign. In addition to Reeves’ central role in Mississippi’s landmark public corruption scandal, this is the third time in as many weeks that the governor has been caught using taxpayer dollars to bankroll his political career and personal lifestyle. Previous reports uncovered how he has used the state plane to travel across the country to political fundraisers and funneled millions of dollars into luxe renovations of the Governor’s mansion — all while he continues to deny health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of working Mississippians.

Read more about how Reeves rewarded yet another campaign donor on the taxpayer’s dime:

  • Mississippi announced financial incentives for a shipbuilder to expand in Gulfport in 2020, days after the president of the shipbuilder’s parent company made a $10,000 campaign contribution to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, records show.

  • The president of Edison Chouest Offshore, Gary Chouest, has given $66,000 to Reeves’ campaigns since 2016, including $10,000 on Sept. 2, 2020, according to finance documents.

  • Fifteen days later, the state economic development agency under Reeves’ supervision, the Mississippi Development Authority, announced Gulf Ship would receive state incentives to expand the site it opened in Gulfport in 2006.

  • The AP asked Reeves campaign spokesperson Clifton Carroll whether there was any direct connection between Reeves accepting the $10,000 contribution from Chouest and the state’s announcement of incentives for Gulf Ship.

  • Presley told the AP last week that Reeves’ acceptance of a $10,000 contribution shortly before the state announced aid for a company connected to the campaign donor shows Reeves “is an ethically compromised governor.”

  • MDA said the Gulf Ship expansion would create more than 200 new jobs, and the state would provide assistance for other improvements to the waterfront.

  • MDA later reported that it gave $333,000 to Gulf Ship in exchange for the company’s promise to invest $1 million and create 150 jobs. MDA also certified Gulf Ship for the state’s Advantage Jobs Rebate Program, which gives the company a rebate of 90% of its Mississippi payroll taxes for 10 years, as long as the company creates the promised jobs.

  • MDA awarded incentives to Gulf Ship less than two years after a separate deal involving another Edison Chouest Offshore affiliate, Topship, fell apart.

  • In December 2018, MDA voided its agreement to provide $36 million in grants and incentives to Topship because the company failed to provide its own investment or fulfill its promise to create 1,000 jobs to develop property on Gulfport’s Industrial Seaway.