Governor signs bill requiring Dept. of Human Services investigators to report fraud to State Auditor

SB 2338 was signed by Governor Reeves last week.

Last week, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves approved Senate Bill 2338. It requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) Fraud Investigation Unit to report to the State Auditor any suspected civil or criminal violations relating to program fraud, embezzlement, or related crimes.

State Auditor Shad White announced the signing of this bill a day after Nancy and Zach New plead guilty to charges of wire fraud, fraud against the government, and charges of bribery of a public official in Mississippi’s welfare fraud case, the state’s largest ever public embezzlement case.

The legislation states:

In order to carry out the responsibilities of the Fraud Investigation Unit, the investigators may request and receive assistance from all state and local agencies, boards, commissions, and bureaus, including, without limitation, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Public Safety, and all public and private agencies maintaining data banks, criminal or other records that would enable the investigators to make verification of fraud or abuse in violation state or federal statutes.

All records and information shall be confidential and shall be available only to the Fraud Investigation Unit, district or county attorneys, the State Auditor, the Attorney General, and courts having jurisdiction in criminal proceedings. 

Auditor White said the Legislature and Governor Reeves knew this bill was a “common-sense idea.”

“I want to thank Gov. Reeves and legislative leadership, along with Senator Brice Wiggins and Representative Angela Cockerham, who handled the bill. Their hard work ensures that the State Auditor’s office can continue to stop misuse of taxpayers’ money, as we did in the case of the News,” White said.

State Senator Brice Wiggins was one of the lawmakers who played a key role in getting the legislation passed.

“Fighting corruption has always been the name of the game for me. Authoring this bill was appreciated,” Senator Wiggins said.

The legislation will take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2022.

You can view the full text of S.B. 2338 below.

Senate Bill 2338 by yallpolitics on Scribd

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