ITD & Bigger Pie Forum Lie About Use of Taxpayer Money Being Used to Fight MS Jobs

Press release issued by JobKeeper Alliance on August 27, 2013 

Take Away Points:

  • ITD lied when they said they’ve not received any taxpayer money since the “mid-1990’s.” State appropriation documents show they’ve received millions between 1995 and 2002*.
  • ITD admitted transferring taxpayer money to Bigger Pie Forum.
  • JobKeeper again calls on a full investigation and accounting of all taxpayer money and activities by both ITD and Bigger Pie Forum to help protect the public trust.

 In a joint press release last week with Bigger Pie Forum, ITD, a taxpayer-funded “economic development” organization admitted it used taxpayer money to form and fund Bigger Pie Forum in 2012. Now, to cover their misdeeds, the organizations are lying to avoid having to come clean about their misappropriation of money entrusted to them by the taxpayers of Mississippi.

“It is outrageous to claim, like ITD and Bigger Pie do, that the profits from taxpayer funded investments somehow belong to Kelley Williams and his personal agenda rather than the taxpayers of Mississippi,” said Patrick Cagle, executive director of JobKeeper Alliance. “JobKeeper Alliance is calling for an investigation of both ITD and Bigger Pie Forum to get to the bottom of how taxpayer money was spent in an attempt to kill jobs in Mississippi. Without an investigation, we may never know the extent to which taxpayer funds have been squandered by Williams and his cronies.”

“In addition to this bit of ENRON accounting, ITD and Bigger Pie Forum shamelessly lie when they claim they have not received any taxpayer money since the mid-1990s. In fact, public records clearly show, in spite of their obvious lie, ITD was appropriated taxpayer funds in 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.* The fact that they are telling such a verifiable lie should serve as an insult to Mississippians and their elected leaders.”

Kelley Williams, who sits on the board of both ITD and Bigger Pie Forum, has used taxpayer money to fund his personal project, Bigger Pie Forum, with absolutely no public oversight. To date, Williams refuses to disclose exactly how that money has been spent.

“They are basically telling Mississippi taxpayers that they will use public money any way they see fit,” Cagle said.

Bigger Pie Forum is a group that has been aggressively fighting against economic development projects in Mississippi, an activity in direct conflict with ITD’s original charter to foster economic development in the state.

Bigger Pie Forum has already been forced to admit it is funded by taxpayer money through ITD. The questions that have not been answered are A) how much taxpayer money Bigger Pie received from ITD, B) why it received it, C) if Williams was directly responsible for the group receiving it, and D) how those funds have been spent.

JobKeeper Alliance is determined to set the record straight about ITD and Bigger Pie Forum and is calling for a full accounting and investigation of ITD’s and now Bigger Pie Forum’s expenditures of public money.

“At best, the use of this public money by Kelley Williams and Bigger Pie Forum is an unethical move that deserves official scrutiny,” Cagle said. “At worst, this is an illegal act involving taxpayer money that merits a full investigation at the highest level. Until Kelley Williams and his accomplices come clean about the transfer of money from ITD to Bigger Pie Forum, or are forced to reveal the truth through an official investigation, JobKeeper Alliance will continue to raise these questions and expose this betrayal of the public’s trust.”

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 *Known regular session legislative appropriations made to ITD: 1985 (SB2984 appropriated $4,000,000); 1986 (SB2903 appropriated $1,000,000); 1987 (SB 2959 appropriated $1,000,000 up to $2,000,000); 1988 (SB3104 appropriated $1,000,000); 1989 (SB2993 appropriated $1,000,000); 1993 (HB1587 appropriated $260,000); 1995 (SB2641 appropriated $2.5 Million); 1998 (SB3224 appropriated $750,000); 1999 (SB3155 appropriated $750,000); 2000 (SB3260 appropriated $750,000); 2001 (SB3106 appropriated $650,000). Additionally, the legislature authorized the issuance of up to $10,000,000 in bonds for the benefit of ITD in the 1987 regular legislative session (SB2857).

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