Legislator resigns, fined for steering contracts to family

BRANDON — A five-year Mississippi House member has resigned and agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to resolve an ethics case the state brought against him over public contracts that went to his family’s printing company — a fraction of the amount he originally was ordered to pay.

Republican Rep. Kevin McGee, 42, of Brandon, resigned yesterday, effective immediately.

>> Read Magnolia Marketplace about who will take McGee’s place …

Calls to McGee’s home were not answered, and one of his attorneys, Republican Rep. Jeff Smith of Columbus, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Gov. Phil Bryant will set a special election to fill the seat in District 59, which is entirely in Rankin County.

The state Ethics Commission ordered McGee in February to repay the state $346,554 from 258 public printing contracts that went to his family business, Service Printers of Flowood. McGee was president of the company, which was also owned by other family members. He left the company after the ethics investigation was announced in 2011.

State ethics laws say public servants may not have financial interests in companies with government contracts.

As part of Monday’s settlement, McGee agreed to drop his appeal of the commission’s February ruling. McGee will not have to repay the $346,554 to the state, said Ethics Commission executive director Tom Hood. The original fine, set in February, was $50,000.

The eight-member commission voted unanimously to approve the settlement.

“We had a really strong case on the law,” Hood said. “But the chances of recovering the restitution and fine were slim.”

As part of the settlement, McGee agreed not to do business with the state for a year. He also agreed not to run for the Legislature again.

In his letter of resignation to House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, and House Clerk Andrew Ketchings, McGee did not mention the ethics case but said he is stepping down “because of personal reasons.”

“Thank you for all the help and support, and wonderful working relationship, we have had for the last five years,” McGee wrote.

McGee was first elected to the House in November 2007 and took office in January 2008. He won a second term last year, and Gunn named him vice chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee.

Republicans hold a majority in the 122-member House, and McGee’s district, mostly near the Ross Barnett Reservoir, is considered safe for the GOP. It’s the same district Bryant represented in the early 1990s.

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