TV station WDAM reported that this graffiti was spray painted on a Pine Belt business. (Courtesy WDAM Twitter)

Police in two Pine Belt towns have found no evidence to back up a claim made Monday by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ campaign that members of their Democratic opponent’s campaign recently vandalized businesses.

TV station WDAM reported someone in early July sprayed the message “Tate Reeves stole our money” on the side of a business in downtown Hattiesburg, and the station tweeted on Monday that someone last weekend sprayed a similar message on a Purvis business.

Reeves’ campaign manager Elliott Husbands sent a Monday release to reporters across the state claiming that Presley “and his team are so desperate to save their failing campaign that they have no resorted to vandalizing Mississippi small businesses” with messages related to the state’s sprawling welfare scandal.

But there is no evidence that anyone connected to the Presley campaign or a Presley supporter is behind the incident.

Local law enforcement in the south Mississippi towns said they have placed no one in custody in connection to the two events, meaning there is no way the campaign can credibly accuse the Presley campaign of orchestrating the events.

Purvis Police Detective Jimmy Green told Mississippi Today that the incident there launched an ongoing investigation, and the department has not placed anyone in custody or charged anyone with a crime in connection to the incident. 

“I don’t see any kind of connection that this has anything to do with a campaign,” Green said on Tuesday.

Samantha Alexander, the chief communications officer for the city of Hattiesburg, told Mississippi Today in a statement that a police report was filed about the July spray painting incident, but “there have been no leads in the investigation.”

Communications officials from the Reeves campaign declined to comment when asked to clarify the discrepancy or offer new evidence to support their claim about the incident.

Presley told reporters at a Monday press conference that he had “no clue” what Reeves’ campaign was talking about with the accusation that someone connected to him was responsible for the graffiti. 

“I know nothing about it,” Presley said of the graffiti. “This is the first I’ve ever heard of it.”

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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.