Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy (D-Rienzi) has left a number of questions unanswered in his attempt to explain improper disbursements of taxpayer money to one of his top lieutenants. According to an article in Tuesday’s Clarion Ledger, McCoy said he acted alone in approving state funds for Rep. Tyrone Ellis’s (D-Starkville) trip to the Democratic National Convention. However, House rules give the Speaker no such authority.

Brad White, incoming Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, said that after reviewing the policies put in place by the House Management Committee, there is reason to believe there was a misuse of public funds. “At the very least, McCoy has apparently acted outside the rules and procedures of the very institution he was elected to lead,” White said. “At worst, it is possible that taxpayer money has been misappropriated when there was clearly no legal avenue for it to have been expensed in this manner. I believe an internal investigation is in order.”

Members of the House Management Committee said they never met to approve the expense. Rep. Michael Janus (R-Biloxi), one of only three Republicans on the twelve-member committee, said the committee met on August 4 to review various personnel matters and approve official travel requests, but did not discuss or vote on Rep Ellis’s request. “The rules state that members must make a request in advance to the Management Committee for approval of all travel,” said Janus. “It is apparent that in this case, the rules were not followed.” Rep. Rita Martinson (R-Madison), another member of the Management Committee, added, “This is another in a long line of occasions where Speaker McCoy has broken the rules for his own benefit.”

MSGOP Press Release