JACKSON — The FBI has confirmed that it is investigating the mayor of Mississippi’s third largest city who was already ordered by state officials to pay more than $170,000 for travel, stress counseling and other personal expenses billed to taxpayers.
>> SEE MBJ COLUMNIST NANCY ANDERSON’S COLUMN ON DAVIS
Southaven Mayor Greg Davis had already come under scrutiny after Mississippi Auditor Stacey Pickering announced Nov. 2 that a seven-month investigation revealed improper billings for such things as a personal trip to Key West, Fla. Pickering demanded for Davis to repay $153,589 for expenses, $16,822 for interest and $13,571 for investigative costs.
Now the focus of the investigation has possibly turned criminal.
“The FBI confirms that it is investigating any allegations of potential violations of federal law by Mayor Greg Davis, which surfaced during the Auditor’s investigation,” FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said. She declined to offer more details.
Davis didn’t immediately respond to an after-hours message at City Hall and his home phone number was not available. Davis said in November that the auditor’s demand was “an expensive but valuable lesson learned” but he wasn’t sure how he would pay the money back.
Pickering has said his office examined spending records from July 2009 until April.
Davis, a Republican, served in the state House before he was elected mayor of Southaven, a suburb of Memphis, Tenn. He ran unsuccessfully for north Mississippi’s 1st District congressional seat in 2008. As a legislator and a congressional candidate, he talked frequently about being a fiscal conservative.
Southaven’s 2010 population was 48,982. It has grown rapidly in the past decade and is now Mississippi’s third-largest city, after Jackson and Gulfport.
Pickering said Davis spent $34,201at Psychological Counseling Services Ltd. in Scottsdale, Ariz., in June and July 2010 for non-work related treatment for Davis and his family. Pickering said investigators found $4,428 of that was charged to a city credit card for travel expenses, and the city paid $20,518 to the counseling center. Remaining expenses were charged to Davis’ personal credit card, and the city made the payments, the auditor said.
Davis has said that he and his wife divorced earlier this year, but the stress counseling for him was related to his job, not his marriage. Davis repaid $13,200 this past April for part of the expenses for his wife’s time at Psychological Counseling Services, Pickering has said.