Scott Walker's Ocean Springs home searched by auditors

Warrant results in investigators taking out boxes over about four-hour search

mmnewsom@sunherald.comFebruary 22, 2013 

SUBMITTED Vehicles from the State Auditor's Office at Scott Walker's house on East Beach Road in Ocean Springs on Friday Feb. 22, 2013.

The State Auditor's Office searched Scott Walker's Ocean Springs home Friday.

Witnesses said about 10 a.m., investigators pulled a large black Chevrolet SUV up to the front steps and began carrying out boxes. Other unmarked vehicles were parked in the driveway and the auditors stayed there until about 2 p.m. Walker wasn't believed to be home during much of the search, if at all.

Investigators would give no details about their execution of the search warrant.

"I'll just confirm we did execute a search warrant and that's really all I can say," said David Huggins, director of the auditor's investigations division.

Scott Walker, who couldn't be reached for comment Friday, is a politically connected South Mississippi businessman and the son of former Department of Marine Resources Director Bill Walker. Bill Walker was fired in January amid ongoing state and federal investigations of the DMR's spending. He has denied wrongdoing.

The DMR's use of federal and other money to buy a Gulf Hills property owned by Scott Walker has made news. The Sun Herald reported in November that Bill Walker signed a voucher giving a $210,000 grant to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, a nonprofit group that works closely with the DMR. The group

then bought the property from Scott Walker for conservation purposes.

The Sun Herald has reported the Investigative Audit Division of the State Auditor's Office and the FBI are investigating the DMR. The U.S. Interior Department audited the agency. The Sun Herald has reported on preliminary reports from the federal audit, which raises questions about, among other issues, a lack of bids for some DMR work; appraisals the agency used for land purchases and the head of the DMR's Coastal Impact Assistance Program program using money she oversees to buy her parents' property in Pascagoula for the DMR.

The Sun Herald has also written about an entity Bill Walker directs called the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation, which owns two recreational fishing boats -- a 36-foot Topaz sport fisherman and a 42-foot Californian convertible. Some have questioned spending hundreds of thousands of public dollars repairing and upgrading the boats. The fishing trips the DMR has taken lawmakers and other influential people on also have been questioned.

The Sun Herald also uncovered campaign contributions Bill Walker's foundation made to several state politicians.

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