Joe Biden speaks to his supporters during the Get Out and Vote event at Tougaloo College's Kroger Gymnasium Sunday, March 8, 2020. Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

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

Gee, a native of Vicksburg, has served as deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice 2018. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., from 2007 to 2015, and before that as counsel and policy advisor for the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.

Gee, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, will take office as the federal government is reportedly investigating the massive welfare scandal in Mississippi, where his background in the Public Integrity Section of DOJ might 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 of public officials in all three branches of federal government, plus state and local public officials.

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

“He is a great person for that job,” Flaggs said. “He has always been an intellectual young man. Todd Gee will adhere to the law.”

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

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

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

Earlier Thompson wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice following Mississippi Today’s series The Backchannel, which broke new details on the welfare scandal. In the letter, Thompson asked federal authorities to specifically investigate the role of former Gov. Phil Bryant in the welfare misspending or theft.

READ MORE: Congressman asks feds to investigate former Gov. Phil Bryant’s welfare spending influence

“My understanding is all of the allegations that have been made are currently under investigation,” Thompson told Mississippi Today Friday when asked if the U.S. Attorney General had responded to his letter. “Actually there’s a report in the press that the FBI has already engaged some of the people … When the neediest citizens are compromised by what happened with the TANF (welfare) funds, we have to make sure that those perpetrators of that illegal activity are 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 are governor of the state of Mississippi, or if you like volleyball — those things shouldn’t be spent and supported by TANF dollars. I have a very vulnerable district in the state. Those dollars were intended to make life better for families in need. I don’t know how those individuals who took that money can sleep at night knowing they took resources from the neediest people.”

READ MORE: Gov. Phil Bryant directed $1.1 million welfare payment to Brett Favre, defendant says

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

All the appointments announced Friday require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Other key federal posts remain open in Mississippi. Biden has not announced a nominee for U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Plus, a federal judgeship remains open in the Northern District. Judge Michael Mills of the Northern District announced in November he was taking senior status, creating an open judgeship.

READ MORE: Phil Bryant had his sights on a payout as welfare funds flowed to Brett Favre


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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.

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Anna Wolfe, a native of Tacoma, Wa., is an investigative reporter writing about poverty and economic justice. Before joining the staff at Mississippi Today in September of 2018, Anna worked for three years at Clarion Ledger, Mississippi’s statewide daily newspaper. She also worked as an investigative reporter for the Center for Public Integrity and Jackson Free Press, the capital city’s alternative newsweekly. Anna has received national recognition for her work, including the 2021 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the 2021 Collier Prize for State Government Accountability, the 2021 John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award, the 2020 Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award and the February 2020 Sidney Award for reporting on Mississippi’s debtors prisons. She received the National Press Foundation’s 2020 Poverty and Inequality Award. She also received first place in the regional Green Eyeshade Awards in 2021 for Public Service in Online Journalism and 2020 for Business Reporting, and the local Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2019 and 2018 for reporting on unfair medical billing practices and hunger in the Mississippi Delta.