Biden appoints new US attorney in Mississippi

President Joe Biden has nominated Todd Gee as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, a post that has been vacant since President Trump-appointed Mike Hurst resigned in January 2021.

As of 2018, Gee, a Vicksburg native, was Deputy Chief of Public Integrity at the Department of Justice. He previously served as Assistant US Attorney in Washington, DC, from 2007 to 2015, and prior to that as Legal Counsel and Policy Advisor to the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security.

Gee, if confirmed by the US Senate, will take office as the federal government is reportedly investigating the massive social scandal in Mississippi, where his background in the DOJ’s Department of Public Integrity could come into play. The Public Integrity Section, created in 1976 after the Watergate scandal, prosecutes criminal abuses of public trust by government officials. It investigates and prosecutes alleged misconduct by officials in all three branches of the federal government and by state and local officials.

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs said he was pleased Gee received the appointment.

“He’s a great person for the job,” Flaggs said. “He was always an intellectual young man. Todd Gee will obey the law.”

Flaggs said that Gee’s grandfather, Nathaniel Bullard, was mayor of Vicksburg from 1973 to 1977 and was also a judge in the chancery. He had another relative who was a district attorney.

“He comes from a family of lawyers,” Flaggs said.

The mayor of Vicksburg said U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi’s 2nd Circuit, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, where Gee previously served as lead counsel, supports the nomination and recently announced the pending nomination at a meeting of the civic club in Vicksburg.

Previously, Thompson wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice following Mississippi Today’s series The Backchannel, which revealed new details about the social scandal. In the letter, Thompson called on federal authorities to investigate former Gov. Phil Bryant’s role in embezzling or stealing welfare benefits.

“To my knowledge, all allegations made are under investigation,” Thompson told Mississippi Today on Friday when asked if the US Attorney General had responded to his letter. “Indeed, there is a report in the press that the FBI has already hired some of the people… If the citizens most in need are at risk from what happened to the TANF funds, we need to make sure those perpetrators of these illegal activities are brought to justice.” be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Thompson continued, “I don’t care if you’re a quarterback on a football team, if you’re a Mississippi state governor, or if you like volleyball — those things shouldn’t be spent and supported with TANF dollars.” I have a very high risk district in the state. These dollars should improve the lives of families in need. I don’t know how these individuals who took this money can sleep at night knowing they have taken resources from those most in need.”

Biden also announced two nominees for U.S. Marshal for the northern and southern districts of Mississippi. Michael Purnell, who served for many years with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, was nominated for the Northern District. Dale Bale, a professional protection officer for a private security company in Hernando, has been appointed Southern District Marshal. Bale previously served with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

All appointments announced Friday are subject to confirmation by the US Senate.

Other important federal posts remain open in Mississippi. Biden has not announced a nominee for US Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Also, a federal courthouse remains open in the Northern District. Northern District Judge Michael Mills announced in November that he was assuming senior status and establishing an open judgeship.

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