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Report: Davis used campaign funds for car, treatment, credit card payments

SOUTHAVEN — Southaven Mayor Greg Davis used campaign money for a $30,000 car, treatment at an Arizona stress clinic and $75,000 in personal credit card payments.

The spending, legal in Mississippi, showed up in campaign finance reports, The Commercial Appeal said.

Nothing in Mississippi law forbids personal use of campaign money — a loophole that state Rep. Henry Zuber III, R- Ocean Springs, has been trying for years to close.

“Why should elected officials have a gravy train?” he asked.

Davis says he won’t comment until the FBI completes its investigation. The bureau began a criminal investigation of the mayor’s spending after the state auditor told Davis in November to pay back about $170,000 for allegedly improper billings to the city.

The newspaper said that, taking advantage of Mississippi’s permissive election finance laws, Davis spent $29,824 in campaign funds last June for an unspecified “vehicle,” listing no further explanation.

In 2010, he used political donations to pay $5,000 to Psychological Counseling Services of Scottsdale, Ariz.

He used another $8,857 for “retreats” — money paid to a travel firm registered to Chuck Roberts, the mayor’s close ally who co-owns a $500,000 oceanfront Florida condo with Davis — and spent thousands more over the years on flowers and gifts.

Reports show he’s also used campaign funds to cover $75,356 in charges on his personal Capital One card and to pay another $88,013 for charges on eight other credit cards since 2004, the newspaper said.

It’s unclear how many states allow conversion of campaign funds to personal use, but the practice appears unusual. A survey of 16 states by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks campaign finance issues, found 11 prohibit personal use and the other five had at least a partial prohibition.

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