Democratic candidate for governor Brandon Presley on Tuesday hammered Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in a new ad, attempting to tie him to Mississippi’s welfare scandal, marking Presley’s third television ad of the campaign cycle. 

“Under Tate Reeves, millions were steered from education and job programs to help his rich friends,” a narrator in the advertisement says. 

The ad goes on to profile several of the items that state investigators have said were incorrectly paid with federal welfare funds, such as a fitness program and a University of Southern Mississippi volleyball stadium.

“Tate Reeves has been caught red-handed in the largest public corruption scandal in state history — and he will be held accountable for the millions of taxpayer dollars lost, stolen, and wasted on his watch,” Ron Owens, Presley’s campaign manager, said in a statement about the ad.

YouTube video
Brandon Presley, Democratic candidate for governor, airs new TV ad hitting Gov. Tate Reeves with the state’s welfare scandal

Reeves has denounced the welfare misspending and has adamantly denied he had any involvement in which projects received funds, which occurred while he was the state’s lieutenant governor. 

The governor’s campaign in a news release called Presley’s ad “patently false” and said the allegations that Reeves played a role in the welfare scandal are  “nonsensical and opportunistic.”

“The facts are clear that the transgressions occurred before Tate Reeves was governor, and he has supported vigorous and effective prosecution against those involved,” the news release reads.

Given his low name ID in central and south Mississippi, television ads for Presley, who has served 15 years as north Mississippi’s utility regulator, will be one of the key tools he must implement in his bid to oust the Republican governor from office. 

This is the first campaign ad from Presley attacking the incumbent governor. The Democratic candidate previously aired ads highlighting his low-income roots and his advocacy for cutting car tag fees. 

Reeves has previously aired ads touting economic investment in the state and legislation he signed into law that bans transgender youth from participating in public school athletics.  

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Taylor, a native of Grenada, covers state government and statewide elections. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and Holmes Community College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Taylor reported on state and local government for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, where he received an award for his coverage of the federal government’s lawsuit against the state’s mental health system.