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Senate confirms Mississippi US Attorney, putting him in charge of welfare scandal prosecution

FILE - The White House is seen reflected in a puddle, Sept. 3, 2022, in Washington. The U.S. Senate confirmed Todd Gee on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, putting him in charge of prosecuting the largest public corruption scandal in state history.
FILE - The White House is seen reflected in a puddle, Sept. 3, 2022, in Washington. The U.S. Senate confirmed Todd Gee on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, putting him in charge of prosecuting the largest public corruption scandal in state history. Photo by Carolyn Kaster /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed a U.S. attorney in Mississippi who will oversee the largest public corruption case in the state’s history.

President Joe Biden nominated Todd Gee for the post overseeing the Southern District of Mississippi in September 2022. His nomination stalled until April, when both of Mississippi’s Republican U.S. Senators, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, had indicated they would support his nomination. Gee was confirmed Friday in an 82-8 vote, with all votes against him coming from other Republicans.

National Post

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi has overseen prosecutions related to a sprawling corruption scandal in which $77 million of federal welfare funds intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.S. were instead diverted to the rich and powerful. The former head of Mississippi’s Department of Human Services and former nonprofit leaders have pleaded guilty to state and federal charges for misspending money through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The scandal has ensnared high-profile figures, including retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, who is one of more than three dozen defendants in a lawsuit that the current Human Services director filed to try to recover some of the welfare money.

In a statement posted on social media Friday, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White, whose office investigated the scandal, said federal prosecutors decide whom to charge, and his relationship with them would not change.

“The appointment of Mr. Gee changes nothing in our posture,” he wrote. “We will continue to work with federal prosecutors to bring the case to a conclusion.”

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Since 2018, Gee has served as deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice, according to a White House news release. He was also an assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia from 2007 to 2015.

Darren LaMarca had been serving as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi since his predecessor, Mike Hurst, resigned after President Joe Biden’s election in 2020. Hurst was appointed by former President Donald Trump. It’s common for federal prosecutors to resign when the administration changes.

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Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him at @mikergoldberg.

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