See what’s in the contract for yourself along with how much taxpayers have spent on the outside attorney up to this point.
Over the weekend, the media establishment in Mississippi went into a frenzy over the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) not renewing the outside legal contract with attorney Brad Pigott, intentionally using his claims that the non-renewal was politically motivated to raise the specter of suspicion across social media.
However, in truth, the contract was never up for an automatic renewal and was subject to reconsideration by the agency “with or without cause” for the duration of the contract.
Pigott had been contracted by the agency last year, with the approval of the Attorney General to represent MDHS in the civil litigation against those previously indicted persons and related parties that were involved in the largest welfare fraud in Mississippi history.
Since Pigott’s non-renewal, speculation has run rampant as to what the contract with MDHS actually said, primarily its terms, and how much the former U.S. Attorney has been paid from state tax dollars at this point.
The full contract signed between Pigott and MDHS is shown below.
The legal services contract began on August 1, 2021, and expires on July 31, 2022. There is a caveat following those dates that says, “or upon the completion of the single civil lawsuit…” That completion did not occur during the contracted term; it is still ongoing.
The contract states that Pigott was to coordinate his work with MDHS counsel and the Attorney General’s office, consulting with them on specific courses of action.
As stated by MDHS on Saturday, on at least one occasion, Pigott made decisions about the litigation and filed pleadings without any prior dialogue with officials at MDHS.
Pigott’s scope of work under the contract terms was to review documents and meet with officials, witnesses and others related to the civil litigation against “the recently-indicted principals (and related parties)” of the Mississippi Community Education Center, the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi and other persons. Pigott was to copy the AG’s office on all correspondence, prepare necessary court documents as authorized by the AG, and submit quarterly status reports. Under the terms, Pigott was to represent MDHS in the preparation, filing and litigation, through trial and appeal if necessary, of civil claims for money damages and relief against those entities mentioned above as related to the State Auditor’s report on the matter dated April 22, 2020.
The total amount of the contract was not to exceed $74,500, unless otherwise authorized.
MDHS Executive Director Bob Anderson told Y’all Politics that Pigott has been instructed to submit for final payment.
“Mr. Pigott was advised that he should wrap up his work by the end of the month and submit a final invoice on his current contract,” Anderson said on Saturday.
According to the state’s transparency in spending website, Pigott has submitted seven invoices over the last year totaling $62,727, the last one of which was dated June 30, 2022. Here are those invoices listed by date:
- September 2, 2021 – $10,972.50
- October 25, 2021 – $17,105.00
- November 9, 2021 – $4,372.50
- December 15, 2021 – $4,702.50
- January 3, 2022 – $4,097.00
- April 30, 2022 – $12,100
- June 30, 2022 – $9,377.50
MDHS has said that it will be retaining another attorney or another law firm to continue with the litigation. The change in attorneys, MDHS noted, does not indicate any change in the commitment of MDHS to recover the welfare funds for taxpayers.
“We will be consulting with the Attorney General, who must approve our choice of outside counsel, and we hope to get a new attorney in place soon,” Executive Director Anderson also said on Saturday.