State Auditor Stacey Pickering will resign his position in July to become executive director of the state Veterans’ Affairs board, Mississippi Today has learned.
Pickering, who was first elected auditor in 2007, confirmed to Mississippi Today that he would inform his senior staff Monday morning that he is taking the Veterans’ Affairs position, which became vacant late last year when former director Randy Reeves was confirmed as Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017.
“We had been talking about it for a while and praying about it for a while, and given my service in the National Guard, it seemed like the perfect fit,” Pickering told Mississippi Today.
Gov. Phil Bryant would appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of Pickering’s term as auditor, which runs through 2019.
Bryant himself got his big political break in 1996, when former Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed Bryant auditor after then-Auditor Steve Patterson resigned as part of a court settlement. Bryant was at the time in his second term in the state House of Representatives.
Pickering will oversee the state agency responsible for helping service members secure state and federal benefits.
Among the duties of the state department, according to its website, is to “provide burial option for veterans and their spouses; increase number of approved (for VA funding) on-the-job and apprenticeship programs in Mississippi; develop new media products for distribution to/for veterans; and explore new long term care options for veterans.”
Prior to becoming auditor, Pickering served a single term from 2004-2008 in the state Senate. He won the 2007 statewide election for auditor by 10 points in 2007, and has served in the post since.
During his re-election bid in 2015, The Clarion-Ledger reported that Pickering was part of an FBI probe after Pickering allegedly had been using campaign funds for personal use. This included a garage door at his personal residence, a BMW car that was given to his daughter, and an RV, which he claimed was for his campaign.
Pickering called the allegations a campaign stunt from his opponent, Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler. No charges were ever filed against Pickering.