Reeves, in his final days as lieutenant governor, backdated letter to put ally on state education board


Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For AmericaGov. Tate Reeves delivers his first State of the State Address at the State Capitol Monday, January 27, 2020.
In one of his last official acts as lieutenant governor, now-Gov. Tate Reeves announced he was appointing former state Sen. Nancy Collins of Tupelo to a coveted seat on the Mississippi State Board of Education.
Mississippi Today obtained a letter Reeves sent to Collins informing her of the appointment dated July 1, 2019. But Collins said she did not know of the appointment until about the time Reeves announced it publicly on Jan. 3, 2020.
The discrepancy around when the appointment was made raises the question of whether Reeves, whom pro-public education groups opposed during the heated 2019 gubernatorial campaign, delayed announcing the controversial appointment for political reasons.
“The letter was backdated to the time that the vacancy occurred and transmitted after the election,” said Reeves’ spokesperson, Renae Eze. “We announced the appointment after the campaign so the people of Mississippi could trust that it was made in good faith.”
The appointment sets up a potentially dramatic vote for state senators who sit on the Senate Education Committee, whose members will vote on whether to confirm Reeves’ nomination.
In January, Reeves’ decision met with scorn from some public education supporters, who opposed Collins when she was in the state Senate and have long opposed Reeves. Collins, who was a key Reeves ally during her five years in the Senate, became a top adversary of public education advocacy groups after she sponsored voucher-like legislation.
After Reeves announced her appointment this year, one public education advocacy group began encouraging its members to call state senators and ask them to vote against Collins when her confirmation hearing comes before the committee in coming weeks.
Both Collins and the Mississippi Department of Education told Mississippi Today they