Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates
Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves took $98,000 from Mississippi Power and executives of its parent company.
When Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves served as lieutenant governor, the Republican-led Legislature voted to allow the company Mississippi Power to raise utility costs. Reeves has since accepted thousands of dollars in donations from the utility company.
Reeves is running for a second term as governor in the election ending on Tuesday. His Democratic opponent is former Nettleton Mayor Brandon Presley, who currently serves as a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
Mississippi Power is an investor-owned electric utility company that services most of the state. In 2010, it began construction on the Kemper Project, a plant that would turn coal into synthesis gas. The plant was projected to cost $1.8 billion.
By 2012, the project was facing cost overruns and was unable to meet construction deadlines. To rectify the shortfall, Mississippi Power sought a $1 billion rate increase. The Mississippi Public Service Commission advised against the hike.
Reeves spoke out against the proposed increase. “I think that the general notion that (electricity customers) are financing this facility is not the ideal way in which to do it,” he told the Biloxi Sun Herald in August 2012.
In 2013, the state Senate voted in favor of the utility hike. Reeves, in his capacity as lieutenant governor, presided over the vote. It is unclear whether he attempted to dissuade his party from voting for the hike. Spokespeople for Reeves’ office and campaign did not immediately respond to questions for this story.
Following the vote, Reeves accepted large donations from Mississippi Power State PAC and executives at its parent corporation, Southern Company. They have donated to Reeves every year since. In June, they donated $15,000 to his reelection effort.
Reeves has been implicated in pay-to-play scandals. A Mississippi Today investigation identified 15 corporations that won large state contracts after donating to Reeves’ campaigns.
Presley has criticized Reeves for his alleged corruption. “I’ve got the guts and the backbone to take on an entrenched system that is corrupt, that is bought and paid for,” he told WLBT in Jackson. “I am willing to fight anybody, anywhere, anytime, for the people in Mississippi.”
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