At least two people who donated significant sums to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves' campaign allegedly engaged in what the state's top elected official calls a "disgusting abuse of power." On Wednesday, State Auditor Shad White announced the arrests of multiple people accused of an embezzlement scheme involving millions in federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds earmarked to help the poorest people in the state.
Two of those people, Zach and Nancy New, donated at least $5,000 to the Republican governor between 2017 and 2019. The News allegedly used TANF funds, which their nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center received from the Mississippi Department of Human Services, for illicit activities and personal use.
"Those funds are supposed to go to the most vulnerable people of our state, and I can't understand the ego or the selfishness that you would have to possess to secretly pass off or pocket those funds instead," Reeves said at a press conference on Thursday. "Some of the people we now believe were involved in the former director's apparent criminal scheme gave money to our campaign. I can tell you right now, anything they gave to our campaign is going to be moved to a separate, untouched bank account."
Since 2016, the News have donated thousands to other top Republicans in the state, including U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment by press time Friday. No one has indicated that any of those officials were involved in any wrongdoing.
"Anything they gave the campaign will be there waiting to return to the taxpayers and help the people it was intended for" once that audit is finished, Reeves said on Wednesday. "If that doesn't happen, that money will go to a deserving charity."
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In a press conference with Hinds County District