Madison county politics heat up in Chancery Clerk's race - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Madison County politics heat up in Chancery Clerk's race

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MADISON COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A Madison County supervisor is hot under the collar. He claims a clerk in the Tax Assessors office ran multiple background checks on him that were not authorized.

District 2 supervisor Ronnie Lott says the checks were politically motivated. But the Tax Assessor says that is not correct. 

Lott met us at the Madison County annex in Madison. Why? He claims this is where 5 background checks were conducted on him during county business hours using the county's Lexis Nexis software.

This candidate for Madison county Chancery Clerk says he was shocked when he learned of the actions. Lott is pointing the finger at Tax Assessor Gerald Barber, and his staff.

"It came from this office. Why would they investigate a sitting supervisor? asked Lott. "If it were not political motivation. What would they need to investigate? I guess they want to prove, they can't beat me on merits, so they want to try to prove dirt in my background is the only possible reason I can think of that."

Lott, a Republican, faces two other candidates in the Chancery Clerk race. One opponent Irby Ford, is Gerald Barber's deputy tax assessor. He has denied any knowledge of the incident.

In response, the Tax Assessor says he was looking into a complaint against Lott; not conducting a personal background check. Barber defended his actions saying his office has the right and responsibility to investigate a multitude of matters.

This is a statement he released to WLBT News Friday.

"I briefed him (Lott) on why he may have shown up as being investigated by our office and assured him it wasn't to do with his upcoming election in the Chancery Clerk race and it should be obvious since no other candidate showed up in the report, I want to make several things clear. Our office not only has the right but we have the responsibility to investigate property ownership issues, residency confirmation, homestead fraud, and business property tax audits. We have also assisted nearly every federal and state law enforcement agencies investigating everything from mortgage fraud to racketeering, tax evasion, social security disability and abuse of vulnerable adults to name a few. The recent unanimous decision by the state supreme court(no.2012-ca-01543-sct) confirms our authority to investigate property tax potential violations which in some cases are felonies. The information on Mr. Lott should have never become public since it was exempt from the public records act section 25-61-12- 2 (a)." 

The Tax Assessor said the check on Lott was not politically motivated. 

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