The state auditor says Noxubee County Chancery Clerk Mary Shelton Washington used taxpayers’ money to pay church tithes.
“It should go without saying that you can’t use taxpayers’ money to pay your tithe to your church,” State Auditor Shad White said. “Elected officials have to use common sense. If you or an organization you belong to is benefiting from your position in the government, and the taxpayers are paying for it, odds are you are doing something wrong.”
Washington donated nearly $20,000 in public funds that were intended for office expenses to multiple local churches, White said.
Washington, Noxubee’s longtime chancery clerk, couldn’t be reached for comment.
White said the illegal charitable donations took place from January 2010 to December 2012.
Special agents from the state auditor’s office have delivered a civil demand to Washington to pay $38,555.78, which includes the nearly $20,000 donated, plus interest and investigative costs.
“We’re going to continue to make sure money like this is repaid to the taxpayers and officials are held responsible,” White said.
White, 32, became auditor in July after being appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant to serve the remainder of the four-year term of Stacey Pickering, who resigned as auditor to take the job of Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board director.