Mississippi’s Department of Transportation is under to “political pressure” to build a road for the convenience of about 130 homeowners, including the Lieutenant Governor.
Communication records obtained by the Clarion-Ledger show Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ office and his neighborhood property owners association discussing the project with the state transport agency.
When the Ledger asked state department’s executive director Melinda McGrath the reason behind the project her response was, “political pressure. From the Legislature. We would not have done this otherwise.” When asked who was pressuring the state agency, McGrath would only say it was coming from “the Senate side.”
The mayor of Flowood, the city in which the dispute is occurring, says he supports the project because he sees it as a “safety issue” and says allegations of Reeves’ involvement are “BS if I’ve ever heard it.” Reeves denies any inappropriate political pressure from his office and is calling for an investigation.
Questions around the impetus behind the project come after Reeves recently proposed allocating significant funds and spending decisions to the governor.
If Reeves’ proposal were to go through, “that means whoever the next governor is will decide where the projects are built … It will be like Louisiana: The governor picks out his friends and political supporters and that’s where the roads get built,” Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall told the Ledger earlier this year. Reeves is speculated to be a candidate for governor in 2019 though he has not announced whether or not he intends to run for the office. [Clarion-Ledger]—Erin Hudson