Watchdog group: Mississippi taxpayers stuck with huge 'food for - - Jackson, MS

Watchdog group: Mississippi taxpayers stuck with huge 'food for business meetings' bill


You may never have enjoyed an expensive meal at a Mississippi Casino or resort, but that doesn't mean you haven't paid for one.

A new report from a Mississippi watchdog group reveals just how much taxpayer money is spent by state agencies on "food for business meeting."

Here's what they found:

"The state spent more than $1.4 million for “food for business meetings” in fiscal 2014, according to an analysis of records by Mississippi Watchdog. 

The state also spent $517,610 in fiscal 2014 at casinos and resorts, mostly in Mississippi. Some of that money went to provide food for business meetings, but it also included some lodging fees.

The biggest line item paid at a casino was for $96,240.79 to the Beau Rivage in Biloxi by the Mississippi Development Authority for “promotional dinners and receptions.” 

The MDA was the biggest spender, with $179,855 spent at four different casinos.

The office of the Attorney General spent $45,766 at Harrah's Casino and $50,519 at the Imperial Palace for “food for business expenses.” 

Jan Schaeffer, a spokesman for the OAG office, said the expenses were probably for two training sessions for prosecutors.

Speaking of the “food for business expenses,” casinos weren't the only recipients of money allocated to pay for the appetites of state employees. 

The state spent $1,467,335 in fiscal 2014 on that line item alone, which is less than it spent in 2013. That tab amounted to $1,646,174.

So who had the state's biggest bill for food? The Mississippi Department of Education ran up a $97,664 tab to the Jackson Convention Center for a conference and $54,000 to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum for another.

According to MDE spokesman Jean Cook, the first was for a series of eight training events held over 16 days by the federally-funded Office of Special Education. The second was for a three-day conference."

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