Simpson should withdraw from AG’s race for falsifying state documents
Attorney General Candidate Steve Simpson apparently committed a felony when he falsified state documents to collect $400 for a lavish steak dinner held under the guise of a business meeting that never happened, said Rickey Cole, Executive Director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. "Given the revelations as reported in today's Clarion-Ledger that Simpson -- as an appointed state official -- falsified documents so he could be reimbursed for a so-called dinner meeting that never took place, there is no honorable alternative other than for him to withdraw from the race," said Cole. “This is the last straw in a sack full of straws for Mr. Simpson.”
As reported today, while he was Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety Simpson filed false expense reports and collected more than $400 for a dinner meeting that allegedly was held with two state legislators and the Insurance Commissioner in 2009 at the Silver Star Casino in Philadelphia. Yet, all three of those officials – Representative Bennett Malone, Senator Billy Hewes and Commissioner Mike Chaney -- denied on Monday that Simpson ever bought them dinner or that the meeting, as described by Simpson, ever took place.
“Past abuses of taxpayer dollars, such as using the state plane for his own benefit and signing a lucrative state contract with a company that later hired him once he left his job as Commissioner of Public Safety, were bad enough,” said Cole. "But with these latest disclosures, Mr. Simpson has crossed a line," said Cole, "Surely, as a former circuit judge and prosecutor, he must know the penalties for filing a false document as a state employee."
According to the Mississippi Code of 1972, § 97-7-10:
(1) Whoever, with intent to defraud the state or any department, agency, office, board, commission, county, municipality or other subdivision of state or local government, knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals or covers up by trick, scheme or device a material fact, or makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations, or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) or by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(2) This section shall not prohibit the prosecution under any other criminal statute of the state.
Simpson went as far as to create an agenda for the alleged meeting, complete with a "Questions and Answers" period and "Final Remarks." In addition, the state documents show that Simpson billed the state twice for the same hotel room he booked at the Silver Star.
"Steve Simpson wants to be Mississippi's top law enforcement officer. But if elected, how could he serve with a possible grand jury indictment facing him?" Cole asked.
Previous posts on "Steakgate", which is shaping up to be the largest story of the political season here and here. (The second post actually has a copy of the agenda Simpson prepared to bolster his apparently fraudulent claim for reimbursement.)