From the Desk of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann
The Secretary of State’s Office has had a busy summer as we continue to work to serve Mississippi to the highest standards.
In May, along with several members of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Legislative Delegation, I announced the purchase of a significant portion of Cat Island, one of the barrier islands located off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Through several different funding mechanisms, the State of Mississippi was able to acquire approximately 217 acres of Cat Island from a private landowner at minimal cost to the State. We had the opportunity to purchase this portion of Cat Island primarily through settlement funds and federal grants. Just as the State secured funding for Deer Island in the past, this purchase was yet another investment in conserving the natural resources of Mississippi’s Barrier Islands.
In June, the United States Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act placed Mississippi on equal footing with every other State. The Court’s decision removes requirements for Mississippi to obtain preclearance for any change to state, county, or municipal voting law, an often expensive, time consuming process. We are moving forward with the implementation of Voter ID. Implementation is being conducted in accordance with the Constitutional Amendment adopted by over 62% of Mississippians, funded by the Legislature, and regulations as proposed by the Secretary of State.
In July, I filed a brief in support of a lawsuit filed against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The case demands the SEC finally distribute millions of dollars in settlement funds to Mississippi investors. In 2007-2008, Morgan Keegan misrepresented and overstated the value of certain mortgage backed investments during the housing collapse. As a result, over 39,000 investors nationwide lost over $1-Billion. Over 2,000 Mississippi investors lost more than $71-Million. As a direct result of an investigation launched by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, Morgan Keegan agreed to pay over $200-Million in penalties into two (2) separate funds: $100-Million to be distributed by the States and $100-Million to be distributed by the SEC. The $100-Million was distributed by the States last year. More than two years later, the SEC has still not distributed restitution to the victims and has failed to adopt and implement a plan to pay the investors their money.
We have had Mississippi investors die before they received the money owed to them. Many of these investors are elderly and on fixed incomes. It is inexcusable they have had to wait over two years after the settlement agreement to receive their own money from their own government.
Most recently we had unveiled the 2012-2016 Official and Statistical Register, or “Blue Book”. In this edition, we highlighted the faces of hardworking, determined Mississippians. A copy of the Blue Book may be obtained by contacting our office at (601) 359-6344. You may also view the publication on our website at www.sos.ms.gov.
Since you hired me, I have been committed to operating our Agency like a business, with your hard-earned taxpayer dollars in mind. Last week, I voluntarily requested a 5.3% decrease from my budget. I have voluntarily cut over $2-Million from our budget every year since I took Office and will continue to watch every dollar spent as you would watch your own. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the Great State of Mississippi.