4 former Mississippi officials cashed out more than $50,000

AP News
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Posted: Mar 20, 2016 9:49 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Former Mississippi Lt. Gov Amy Tuck withdrew more than $260,000 from her campaign account for personal use between 2007 and 2013. Here are four other former Mississippi officials who cashed out more than $50,000:

GEORGE DALE, former insurance commissioner

Amount withdrawn: $105,264.

Dale said he took the money to support an autistic granddaughter, especially after he dies. "What's the alternative?" he asked. Dale said he tried to shield himself from fundraising while commissioner by putting trustees over his campaign account and not personally soliciting contributions. "Whether or not money influences politicians, that's a question that's been around forever," Dale said. He said he favors rules making it harder to spend campaign money for personal purposes. "Not only in Mississippi but in a lot of states, we have the best government money can buy."

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JOHNNY STRINGER, former House Appropriations Committee chairman

Amount withdrawn: $145,000

Stringer, a longtime legislator from Montrose, said he took the money to pay for unreimbursed campaign expenses. "I wish I had kept up with how much money I did spend," he said. Stringer said he thought it was unfair to focus on him and other officials who clearly mark personal withdrawals, when others may be subsidizing their lifestyle with campaign money. "Some of them have $5,000 or $6,000-a-month credit cards they pay," Stringer said. "I guess I just took mine all at one time."

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ERIC CLARK, former House member and Secretary of State

Amount withdrawn: $55,181

"I ran for Legislature five times and secretary of state three times," Clark said. "Most of the time I ran for Legislature I financed it out of my own pocket." He also said that he paid for the first 18 months of his first secretary of state's campaign himself before he began raising substantial amounts of money. "I bought untold ads in football programs, cakes, raffle tickets," he said. "There are a huge number of expenses."

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TOMMY MOFFATT, former state senator

Amount withdrawn: $50,407

After initially denying he took that much, Moffatt re-examined his records and agreed the amount was correct. "All I cared about was raising a little money, but all of a sudden, money starts coming in that you're not even asking for," Moffatt said. He said his business background may have gotten the best of him when he was closing out his committee in 2011, but denied he was improperly influenced. "They want you in that spot because they think you can make that decision that will be helpful to them, but not to step across the line and do something you shouldn't," Moffatt said of donors.