Campaign contributions questioned as DeSoto legislative races heat up

Ashley Henley, a teacher who is challenging state Rep. Pat Nelson of Southaven in the Aug. 4 GOP primary, questions in a recent release the nearly $200,000 in non-itemized campaign contributions reported by Nelson since 2012. Financial disclosure laws do not require identifying donors of $200 or less…

…Henley’s report for the same period shows $6,974.60 cash on hand, with two large contributions totaling $11,800 during June, both from the Empower political action committee.

Empower Mississippi is a PAC promoting charter schools, an initiative that has failed to gain much traction in DeSoto County. The county has the state’s largest public school district, always ranked highly in state accountability standards, so the idea of charter schools has failed to attract the level of public support it has in some areas of Mississippi where public schools have struggled to provide minimal education standards.

The group has targeted DeSoto legislative incumbents in this year’s primaries and general election because of what it sees as a lack of support for pro-charter legislation, and Nelson says those efforts are behind the attacks on him and other DeSoto incumbents in the state House and Senate….

…The incumbents are making an issue of the money Empower has put into six DeSoto County legislative races so far, especially because the group has plenty more cash left. Empower has raised $428,000 since its creation a year ago and had $337,000 on hand as of June 10.

Commercial Appeal