Editor’s Note: Paula Sykes is the former chancery clerk of Sunflower County
Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed with calls from many people in Sunflower County. There is an abundance of questions that continue to go unanswered, with many inquiring into the full story, regarding Chancery Clerk Gloria McIntosh’s misappropriation of $75,950.00.
According to the report by the Office of the State Auditor on September 22, 2020, Sunflower County Chancery Clerk Gloria McIntosh claimed $75,950 in expenses to M & M Educational Consultants, LLC in which she is the owner and registered agent in the business, along with her husband and two daughters.
These incidents happened in 2017 and 2018 and were uncovered recently when the State Auditor sent special compliance auditors, employed by the State of Mississippi into Sunflower County to perform a special compliance audit.
Most importantly, McIntosh has said that she was unaware of how to do the land redemption function of the office. In her Official Response to the State Auditor’s Finding #4, Mrs. McIntosh states, “After completing one year of the Land Redemption process, I realized that it was a daunting task, and the office needed assistance.”
However, if McIntosh had made herself familiar with the rules and laws, as well as the job description in which she took an oath to uphold prior to taking office, she would have been aware that per Mississippi Ethics Commission Code 25-4-105(3) (a) No public servant shall: Be a contractor, subcontractor or vendor with the governmental entity of which he is a member, officer, employee or agent, other than in his contract of employment, or have a material financial interest in any business which is a contractor, subcontractor or vendor with the governmental entity of which he is a member, officer, employee or agent.
According to her official response to the State Auditor, McIntosh says that she was told that it was ok to pay money to a company where she is a “registered agent” along with her husband and two daughters.
Basically, what she said was that she did not know how to do the job, so she paid herself and her family to help her learn how to do the job.
McIntosh and her family through their company made the decision to take public funds.
McIntosh stated that she holds her staff to a higher level. However, the Chancery Clerk’s staff did not take public funds.
These incidents should not be misunderstood because her staff did not do anything wrong.
Also, McIntosh has not reported to the Mississippi Ethics Commission on her annual certificates that M & M Educational Consultants LLC, benefited in 2017 and 2018 from Sunflower County public funds, clearly a violation of the above mentioned state ethics laws.
The Chancery Clerk herself is solely responsible.
FYI, the MS Chancery Clerk’s Association, the Center for Governmental Training at MSU, and the MS Judicial College conduct many hours every year of continuing education training at no expense to the county on the duties and responsibilities involving land redemption.
Before she took office in January of 2016, the former Chancery Clerk of Coahoma County, who is an attorney, gave hands-on training to McIntosh and the staff that she brought into the Chancery Clerk’s office.
Unanswered questions: (1) Where did she get the money to repay the county? (2) Why would she hire her family to teach her a job that they have no experience in performing? (3) How does the State Ethics Commission regard the fact that she and her family benefited from public funds that were not reported on the annual certificates of Mrs. McIntosh? (4) How much did it cost the county in extra audit expenses and the loss of interest on the funds that were misappropriated?
The leaders in Sunflower County should be concerned about the taxpayers that continue to lose their property through the tax sale (land redemption) process because the Clerk continues to fail to perform her state law required duties.
See the recent Chancery Court case filed in Sunflower County, Flemming v. McIntosh, Chancery Court cause 2020-000117. As recorded in this case, the Flemmings’ were successful in getting their property back because McIntosh failed to do her job.
There are many residents in Sunflower County that have lost their property, but have not gotten their property back, seems they will have to seek court action also.
There is a lot more in the Auditor’s report that it seems that the public has not been told.
Read the full report at https://www.osa.ms.gov/documents/compliance/2018/18comSunflower%20County.pdf
These are just a few of the many questions people in Sunflower County continue to ask and rightfully should be given an answer.
If the Chancery Clerk will pay herself and her family to do her responsibilities, what other transactions have been disregarded, simply because in her own words … she was ill-equipped to perform the duties of the office to which she has been elected twice?