By The Associated Press
SOUTHAVEN — A report finds the Southaven Chamber of Commerce paid Mayor Greg Davis $207,000 over nearly seven years to promote tourism and business, yet required few if any receipts to show how he spent that money.
The report was released Wednesday by the chamber’
The Commercial Appeal reports that the chamber’s four-page report indicates it paid Davis over six years for dinners, trips, conferences, parties and gifts, largely without requiring receipts or documentation.
The chamber’ began asking for more details in 2010 after an outside auditor said “there was not enough documentation to support the payments” to Davis’ personal Capital One credit card.
The mayor’s office produced three invoices totaling $12,679 for July, August and September 2010 with documentation consisting of portions of Davis’ credit card statement. Urged by auditors, the chamber pressed for greater documentation.
“The chamber did not receive any documentation in response to its request. After its second request the chamber stopped receiving monthly invoices from the Mayor’s office,” said the report released by chamber executive director Ginger Adams.
Davis said Wednesday he hasn’t misspent any money.
“Every expense has been for a legitimate business expense to recruit or to talk over business with existing business owners,” Davis said. “When it is all said and done that will be a proven fact.”
Davis didn’t dispute receiving $207,198 from the chamber, a nonprofit pro-business organization that is subsidized by the city and keeps offices in City Hall rent-free.
“There is no reason to doubt their accounting, but you have to keep in mind that this amount is less than one percent of the average budget year, and the rate of return with businesses coming to Southaven have been proven time and time again over the years,” Davis said.
For months, Davis, 46, has been the focus of a state and federal probe into allegations he misspent large amounts of city funds received to lure prospective businesses to Southaven.
Auditors found he misused city funds on personal trips, family counseling, clothes, dinners where large tips were left and once spent $67 at a gay sex shop in Toronto. He was ordered by Auditor Stacey Pickering to repay more than $170,000, including fees and interest.
Through a group of supporters, Davis has repaid $96,000, but still owes nearly $63,000.
The state auditor’s investigation doesn’t include Davis’ chamber spending because it is a nonprofit organization.