Southaven Mayor Greg Davis sat down with Action News 5's Janice Broach in his first and only on-camera interview since scandal erupted over charges he made with the city's credit card and no question was off limits.
SOUTHAVEN, MS -
(WMC-TV) - Southaven Mayor Greg Davis sat down with Action News 5's Janice Broach in his first and only on-camera interview since scandal erupted over charges he made with the city's credit card and no question was off limits.
He's already paid back a big chunk of those expenses, but he still owes a lot more and now people are calling for his resignation.
Davis spoke about several tumultuous months of intense scrutiny, accusations and revelations.
"I guess the old Greg Davis would try to take control of the situation, or try to control the outcome and I've come to realize, it's out of my hands," he said.
The Mississippi state auditor showed up in April and asked Davis to prove more than $170,000 he spent and charged to Southaven was for city business.
"There has never been any intentional charge to the City of Southaven for any personal use," Davis said. "We can sit here and destroy ourselves from within, but hopefully, when the facts become available we can take a look at them and people can say, ‘Oh, okay. Now I understand where he was coming from.'"
Davis spent thousands on meals and liquor. At times he even dropped $100 tips and it was all in the name, Davis said, of bringing business and jobs to Southaven.
He believes the money was well spent.
"We all know a lot more business takes place in a relaxed atmosphere where someone is not sitting behind a desk," he said. "A $1,500 dinner, in my mind, I don't think it's worth the risk of maybe losing somebody."
Davis has been accused of showing favoritism to his friends while doing city business, something he denies and points to his many successes.
"Our last tax increase in the City of Southaven was in '06," he said. "We actually had a property tax reduction in 2002."
Now, it's numbers of a different sort that are making headlines.
Davis' troubles with the state auditor are not over. He still owes around $60,000.
"Nobody's perfect," Davis said. "Have we made some mistakes? We possibly have. But we felt like we were acting in good faith. We still feel like we have acted in good faith with what we have done."
One of those mistakes involved a receipt for $67 from a gay adult store.
Davis spent the money while on a recruiting trip in Canada and remembers the day he found out he mistakenly put that receipt in the pile for auditors.
"I can remember vividly when I found out," he said. "That's how much it's sticking out in my mind. I just needed to get away. The stress had reached a point, I couldn't be around anybody."
It was a mistake that prompted a big revelation from the divorced father of three girls.
Davis publicly revealed that he is gay. He told his daughters more than a year ago.
"They have been very accepting of my personal life," he said.
Davis, who has a partner, said one of his daughters has been taunted at school over his entire situation.
"My biggest concern is my three daughters," he said. "They have to get up and go to school every day and face children whose parents are talking about what's in the paper or what's on the press."
Davis said things became unbearable for him at the end of last year.
"I got to a breaking point around Christmas," he said. "That's when I said - I love this job. I love what I do, but I have to go take care of myself."
Davis went away for a month to a place he will not disclose.
"I had very little contact and no one here knows where I was," he said.
Davis said he returned to work a new man and despite requests for his resignation, he said he is not stepping down.
"I don't expect everyone to agree with all the decisions that have been made here," Davis said when asked what he would tell the citizens of Southaven. "And I'm sure I've made some mistakes. There's no doubt about that. I'm human.
"Everyone's entitled to their position. I do think, though, there's still a very large majority of people who feel like, as one of the judge's I talked to put it, ‘They've heard the prosecution's side. Now it's time to hear the defense and then we can make our minds up on what we feel on what type of job he's done.'"
But does Davis have any regrets?
"As far as decisions that were made and things that were done, again, I think I would probably still do it the same because I think everything that we did, had a net result or we were hoping for a net result."
Davis said that all of the money he spent came from a fund designated by the state legislature to promote Southaven.
He said the board of alderman set his budget and that he stayed within that budget each month.
He said aldermen never questioned his expenses until the state auditor started asking questions.
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