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TATE PLANE: Reeves Spent Thousands In Taxpayer Dollars To Fly Family To Mardi GrasParty, Aquarium Vacation

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TATE PLANE: Reeves Spent Thousands In Taxpayer Dollars To Fly Family To Mardi Gras Party, Aquarium Vacation

A new investigation from the Daily Journal reveals that Gov. Tate Reeves used Mississippi’s state plane to fly his family to and from a Mardi Gras party and a weekend trip to Gulfport to visit the Mississippi aquarium.

In February 2020, Reeves and his wife used the state plane to attend an exclusive black-tie Mardi Gras coronation party on the Gulf Coast — a “power center for the governor, who benefits from votes and donations from the well-populated, highly developed, heavily Republican region” — where they mingled with lobbyists and campaign supporters. The flight alone cost taxpayers more than $1,600.

A year later, Reeves used the plane to fly with his wife and children to Gulfport for a weekend trip, where the Governor posted a photo of the family at the Mississippi Aquarium. That trip cost taxpayers just over $3,000.

The new findings come after Reeves recently came under fire for taking at least $31,000 worth of taxpayer-funded flights to “attend partisan gatherings hosted by groups that have donated more than $1 million to Reeves’ campaigns.” Other recent investigations have uncovered millions more in suspicious and self-serving spending by the governor, including nearly $800,000 in government contracts to a printing company owned by his sister-in-law, hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial incentives to a donor’s business, and millions of dollars in renovations to the governor’s mansion, including for a lemon tree room, a meditation garden, and luxury ice machines.

“While Gov. Tate Reeves has taken his corruption to new heights on the taxpayer dime, too many hardworking Mississippians are unable to get basic health care or feeling the squeeze of the highest grocery tax in the country,” said DGA spokesperson Izzi Levy. “Put planely, Gov. Reeves has  abused his office to propel his own interests forward and serve his friends and allies, and it’s not landing well with the Mississippi families who are left to pay the price.”

Read more about Tate Reeves’ latest jetsetting abuse of taxpayer dollars:

  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves used the official state plane to bring his wife to and from a Mardi Gras party with political allies a month after his inauguration and later to bring his family on a weekend trip to the coast, according to records reviewed by the Daily Journal.
  • Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is a power center for the governor, who benefits from votes and donations from the well-populated, highly developed, heavily Republican region that is home to major oil, shipbuilding, gaming and port business interests.
  • In February 2020, Reeves and First Lady Elee Reeves went to a black-tie Mardi Gras coronation party thrown by a coastal business group in a county that gave Reeves one of his highest vote counts in his November 2019 election.
  • Reeves used the state plane to fly his wife to the Pascagoula event. She was the only passenger. Four hours later, the plane returned to Jackson after the party, carrying the governor, his wife and an aide to the governor. The trip cost $1,644.50.
  •  [Reeves Communications Director Hunter Estes] did not respond to questions about using the state plane to bring the First Lady to the Mardi Gras event and to return the governor and First Lady to Jackson afterward. He also did not confirm if his office spent public tax dollars returning empty vehicles or personnel to Jackson without the governor after he took the state plane home instead.
  • The following year, the governor used the state plane to travel with his wife and three daughters to and from the coastal city of Gulfport, arriving on a Friday afternoon and returning to Jackson on Monday morning. Over that weekend, the governor posted a social media picture of the family at the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport.
  • Besides these trips, last month Mississippi Today reported on Gov. Reeves using the state plane to travel to explicitly political out-of-state events like the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference, three separate Republican Governors Association events in 2021 and 2022, two speaking engagements with the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List in 2022, and a Fox News “Red State Trailblazers Town Hall” event in 2021.
  • The governor’s office did not respond to the Daily Journal’s questions about the governor’s policy on when use of the plane is appropriate and whether he ever reimburses the state from campaign or personal funds.
  • Attendees included Capitol Group lobbying firm founder and state GOP convention delegate Haley Martin; coastal realtor and Reeves campaign county chair Mark Cumbest; and local native Brad Arnold of the rock band Three Doors Down, according to other social media posts from the event.

 

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