seeking records

Mississippi drops attorney investigating welfare abuse

JACKSON, Ms. (AP) — A former federal prosecutor investigating millions in missed welfare dollars in Mississippi has been dropped from the case by the state agency that hired him.

The state Department of Human Resources will find a new lawyer to replace Brad Pigott, a former US attorney recruited roughly a year ago to help recoup $77 million in welfare funds identified by the state auditor.

The decision to remove Pigott as lead attorney in the civil case was first reported by pigott/” class=””Mississippi Today, a nonprofit digital news operation that has been reported extensively on the welfare scandal. Pigott said he was fired about a week after he filed a subpoena for records from the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation.

Pigott was seeking records related to $5 million in welfare money the university foundation received to build a volleyball stadium, and included communications between the foundation and the former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.

“All I did, and I believe all that caused me to be terminated from representing the department or having anything to do with the litigation, was to try to get the truth about all of that,” Pigott told Mississippi Today.

Shad White, Mississippi’s state auditor, has said the welfare fraud his office uncovered amounts to the state’s largest public corruption case in two decades. He criticized the decision to drop Pigott.

“Firing Pigott is a mistake,” White posted Saturday on Twitter. He added: “Pigott worked well with my office, communicating regularly with us about the status of the case and how we could share information.”

Robert Anderson, executive director of the Department of Human Services, said in a statement that Pigott’s contract expires at the end of July and won’t be renewed, news outlets reported.

In a statement, Anderson said Pigott

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