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Davis will not resign despite state, federal investigation into spending

SOUTHAVEN — Fourth-term Southaven Mayor Greg Davis said yesterday he plans to remain on the job amid continuing state and federal scrutiny of his spending of city money.

“I am looking forward to continuing working for all the citizens of Southaven. For that reason, I have no intentions of resigning,” Davis said during his first public appearance in about a month.

Davis, 45, had been away on medical leave. He spent two minutes reading from a statement yesterday, and left without taking questions.

In November, state Auditor Stacey Pickering told Davis to repay the city about $170,000 for allegedly improper billings, including travel, stress counseling and food and liquor.

Pickering’s spokeswoman, Lisa Shoemaker, said Jan. 13 that the agency reviewed $44,000 in receipts and documentation that Davis submitted. The agency reduced the original amount he owed by $10,319, plus interest. The total amount of questionable expenditures and interest then stood at more than $158,000. Davis had repaid $96,000 by then.

The auditor’s office has said one bill Davis submitted to the city 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 said he was gay and that he and his wife had divorced.

Davis said yesterday that he met Dec. 20 with city department heads and in a closed session with the Board of Aldermen. He said he used the word “deceiving” with each group as he discussed his sexual orientation. Davis had told The Commercial Appeal on Dec. 15 that he is gay.

“It deeply hurts that some have taken that very personal struggle and manipulated it and twisted it maliciously into something that was never intended,” Davis said yesterday. “In the past, I, too, may have reacted in a similar manner.”

Davis also thanked friends and supporters “who continue to stand and pray for me during this difficult time.”

Southaven is a prosperous suburb of Memphis, Tenn., and has grown rapidly in recent years. With a 2010 population of 48,982, it is now Mississippi’s third-largest city.

Because of investigations into Southaven spending, the Mississippi Department of Transportation earlier this month withheld $850,000 in grants to build a bike path and walking trail system. When the auditor’s office ordered Davis to pay back the money in November, 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 to The Associated Press on Dec. 7 that it had opened a criminal investigation.

Davis served in the state House of Representatives before he was elected mayor.

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