DMR under investigation by state auditor

dmharris@sunherald.comDecember 15, 2012 

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDAn employee of the State Auditor's Office closes the door at the Department of Marine Resources executive offices in the Bolton Building in Biloxi on Oct. 25. At left is DMR director Bill Walker's office where State Auditor employees were examining records.

JOHN FITZHUGH — SUN HERALD Buy Photo

BILOXI -- Officials from the State Auditor's Office were at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources offices Thursday, sifting through files in the executive director's office.

"The State Auditor's Office was here and they are conducting an investigation," said Lauren Thompson, DMR director of communications.

The nature of the investigation is not clear.

Executive Director Bill Walker waited in the lobby of the executive offices on the sixth floor of the Bolton Building on Thursday afternoon as at least three men reviewed files at a table in Walker's office.

Computer hard drives were on the floor near the door. It is not clear if any files were removed from the building.

"The State Auditor's Office is not making any comments or statements at this time," spokeswoman Laney Graham said in an email to the Sun Herald on Thursday afternoon.

She later issued this statement after the Sun Herald reported the investigation: "The office of the State Auditor realizes that many rumors may be circulating today concerning the Department of Marine Resources. However, David R. Huggins, Director of Investigations, does not wish to comment on the status of an investigation. However, he will state that contrary to rumor, no arrests have been made."

The state Legislature created the DMR as a new state agency in 1994. It manages coastal resources, through the authority of the Commission on Marine Resources.

The DMR manages all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas for the long-term recreational, educational, commercial and economic benefit of the public, according to its website.

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