SOUTHAVEN — Leaders of an affluent northern Mississippi suburb are expected to vote today on a resolution asking the mayor to resign over allegations that he misspent thousands of taxpayer dollars, including some at a gay sex shop in Canada.
Southaven Mayor Greg Davis has come under increasing scrutiny since November when Mississippi Auditor Stacey Pickering told him to pay back about $170,000 for allegedly improper billings, including travel, stress counseling and food and liquor. The auditor’s office has said one such bill was for $67 at Priape, described on its website as “Canada’s premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop.”
Davis is a Republican who ran for Congress in 2008 on a conservative platform. After news of the spending was revealed, he admitted he was gay and that he and his wife had divorced. Some of the money Davis was ordered to repay went to counseling for him and his family.
Southaven Alderman Ronnie Hale told The Associated Press that members of the board planned to vote during a special meeting today on a resolution asking Davis to resign. Hale said he and two other aldermen asked for the resolution to be put on the agenda, but he expects a majority vote from the seven-member board.
Hale said state law doesn’t allow the board to force Davis out of office, but the resolution will ask him to step down in the best interest of the city.
“It’s nothing personal. We’re not ever going to try to take away from his accomplishments. We just feel that in the interest of the city we need someone else to be in charge,” Hale said.
Davis didn’t immediately respond to a message left yesterday on his cellphone voicemail.
Hale said the Mississippi Department of Transportation has withheld $800,000 in grants because of investigations into the spending and the city needs to move forward with infrastructure projects. When the Mississippi auditor’s office ordered Davis to pay back the money in November 2011, the agency said it had been investigating his expenses for seven months. He was told to repay $153,589 for expenses, $16,822 for interest and $13,571 for investigative costs.
The FBI confirmed Dec. 7 that it had opened a criminal investigation.
Davis declined to discuss the matter when contracted by AP last month, saying his attorney had told him not to talk. But he told The Commercial Appeal he doesn’t remember what he bought at the sex shop, which he visited on a recruitment trip with warehouse developers.
Davis is in his fourth term as mayor of Southaven. He served in the state House before he was elected mayor and 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.
If Davis resigns, the mayor pro tem would take over until a special election could be held. State law requires that to take place in 45 days.
Mayor Pro Tem Greg Guy said the board of aldermen had followed attorneys’ advice and been largely silent on the situation, but now it’s time to let Southaven residents know that they are trying to fix the problems. Guy said he was told that Davis had paid back $96,000 of the money owed.
“He’s admitted to the board that he’s deceived us,” Guy said. “We need to rebuild trust from the citizens of Southaven. And it’s time. It’s time to move on.”