Receipts show spending at gay sex shops by Southaven mayor

Southaven Mayor Greg Davis is interviewed in Olive Branch, during his failed congressional race. The FBI confirmed that it is investigating the north Mississippi mayor who state authorities have already ordered to pay more than $170,000 for travel, stress counseling and other personal expenses billed to taxpayers. Federal agents are looking for "any allegations of potential violations of federal law," said FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden.

Receipts show Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008 on a family-values platform, charged the city $67 for a purchase at a gay sex shop in Canada.

The Mississippi auditor on Nov. 2 demanded Davis pay back more than $170,000 for personal expenses billed to taxpayers. There are no criminal charges from the auditor’s investigation. The FBI confirmed Dec. 7 that it is investigating Davis after the auditor’s probe showed possible violations of federal laws.

The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/s53La6) reported Friday that Davis has repaid about $96,000.

Southaven is a 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.

The auditor’s office provided Southaven officials with copies of Davis’ receipts. Aldermen originally approved paying the mayor’s expenses and now say they’re reviewing hundreds of pages of the documents to see whether some of the receipts were for legitimate city business.

The Commercial Appeal reported it obtained Davis’ receipts through a Freedom of Information request to Southaven. The newspaper reports Davis billed the city for expensive dinners and thousands of dollars in liquor. Although officials are allowed to charge for business meals, it was not immediately clear how many of Davis’ food and liquor purchases were for business.

The auditor’s office confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that Davis billed the city for the $67 purchase at Priape, which describes itself on its website as “Canada’s premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop.”

Davis declined to comment on the expenses, saying his attorney had told him not to talk.

“I can’t say anything,” Davis told the AP on Friday.

The 45-year-old mayor 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, who divorced this year, told The Commercial Appeal on Thursday that he is gay. It was the first time he had said so publicly.

“At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that this can no longer remain the case,” Davis said. “While I have performed my job as mayor, in my opinion, as a very conservative, progressive individual — and still continue to be a very conservative individual — I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles I have had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay.”

Alderman Ronnie Hale said he and his colleagues are reviewing receipts to find spending they remember as city business to try to accurately show the amount Davis must repay.

Hale said he had examined roughly one-third of the stack by Friday and recognized some that were connected to municipal meetings.

“I feel like the majority of the receipts are legitimate,” Hale told AP. “It’s just that he doesn’t have documentation.”

Hale acknowledged Davis appears to have spent city money on personal purchases, but said he supports Davis continuing as mayor.

“His heart is with the city of Southaven,” Hale said. “Has he made some questionable expenses? Sure he has.”

Hale said he has “absolutely no comment on the mayor’s personal life.”

Hale said the city has hired an additional finance official and tightened requirements for reimbursement in April.

Davis served in the Mississippi House before he was elected mayor. As a legislator and a 2008 congressional candidate, he talked frequently about being a fiscal conservative.

During the congressional campaign, his then-wife, Suzann Davis, talked about her husband’s conservative values.

“I know Greg’s heart,” she said in a TV ad. “He has a strong faith in God, and no one will fight harder for all our families.”

>> RELATED COLUMN: Davis should be in jail after taking town’s money

>> RELATED COLUMN: Things getting frosty in Southaven

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