August 12, 2009 3:13:00 PM
Lowndes County Tax Assessor and Collector Greg Andrews has paid a $15,000 fine after the Mississippi Ethics Commission determined he violated state ethics laws.
An investigation conducted by the Ethics Commission found Andrews employed his wife in the Tax Assessor and Collector''s Office and recommended pay raises for her at least 11 of the last 12 years.
Andrews'' wife, Alicia Andrews, resigned from his office in April as a result of the investigation.
Mississippi''s Ethics in Government Laws prohibit a government official from using his or her position to benefit a relative such as a spouse.
Greg and Alicia Andrews began working in the tax office more than 20 years ago, and worked there for a few years before they were married. Greg Andrews became the county tax assessor/collector in 1996. Greg Andrews'' attorney, Jeff Smith, had said that he believed Andrews and his wife were "grandfathered in" before ethics rules took effect.
The Ethics Commission ordered a total fine of $60,000, but suspended $45,000 on the condition that Andrews commits no further ethics violations during the remainder of his current term in office. The Ethics Commission received the payment last Thursday and deposited it into the State General Fund.
Andrews'' fine payment comes two years after he was fined $1,200 by the Ethics Commission for purchasing land at tax sales held by his office.
The 2006 ethics investigation revealed Andrews had purchased four parcels of property at county tax sales, for which he received $263.55 in interest payments from the county.
The recent case was the first reviewed under the Ethics Commission''s enhanced authority. Last year, the Mississippi Legislature doubled the maximum fine in ethics cases to $10,000 per offense and gave the commission the power to hold hearings and impose penalties. Andrews agreed to settle the case before any hearing was held.
Got Caught commented at 8/12/2009 4:22:00 PM:
ARE YOU SURPRISED?
THAT ENTIRE OFFICE IS FILLED WITH PEOPLE WITH NO VALUES.
YOU CAN"T FIND AN HONEST PERSON IN THERE.
Mark commented at 8/12/2009 4:45:00 PM:
Is there one office in Lowndes County with an honest official in office?? The country club "Deal" is amazing to me. These people are the most dishonest folks I have seen in my life!!
Patty commented at 8/12/2009 5:22:00 PM:
Quote from the article: "Greg Andrews' attorney, Jeff Smith, had said that he believed Andrews and his wife were "grandfathered in" before ethics rules took effect."
Take a look at many of the problems encountered by various governmental entities in Lowndes County over the years, and you will find that Jeff Smith was the attorney that oversaw the processes that were a problem. I don't think that Greg Andrews and The Lowndes County School board to name two were the root of the problem!
Whiners never win commented at 8/12/2009 8:08:00 PM:
Momma always said whiners never win. I think that it is true in adult life as well. But we seem to have an epidemic of it in Lowndes County. Any time anyone does something that may or may not have been ok, the whiners come out of the woodwork to bash and jump all over whoever it is that was so totally stupidly wrong!!! I for one cannot say that I would want to have a political job in Lowndes County. And I think that we as a county would be a community that would grow if we would stick together instead of tear apart. I am sure there are things in each of our lives where we are less than perfect. And the Andrews are one of us as well that are less than perfect. But from my perspective and watching the Andrews work together in that office over the last number of years, I think that we the people of Lowndes County were the real loosers today. It takes a team to make things happen and from my perspective they made things happen. We lost a valuable package when someone decided to take prove a point. I hope someday Lowndes will learn to support our officials instead of tear them down. Whiners never win. Lowndes County lost.
Candi commented at 8/12/2009 8:59:00 PM:
Maybe it is time for a new tax accessor in Lowndes County. I think being fined for two different ethics violations merits someone different. Ignorance is no excuse for inappropriate behavior. Isn't that what we should be teaching our children? Political officials should (above all) should do it better and cleaner than everyone else. When you hold the public trust you must accept all the "watching" that comes along with the job. Mr. Andrews still has his job. He wasn't asked to step down. A $15,000 fine is small compared to $60,000 it was originally.
richard commented at 8/12/2009 10:47:00 PM:
Before we make comments lets make sure we have all the facts. I have worked with the Andrews and they are good, decent, kind hearted people. He made a mistake and its sad that people love to put you down about those mistakes. "The Friendly City" yeah right!!
Wayne commented at 8/12/2009 11:42:00 PM:
shame shame got your hand caught in the cookie jar again. Seems like a small fine compared to the 60,000 it was supposed to be. Especially considering this was your second violation.If Lowndes County has lost anything it is our faith in such a leader as Mr. Andrews.As for sticking up for our county leader goes,It does not take a stupid person to see that he is doing wrong. I for one only stick up for right, not WRONG. As a taxpayer I feel an investigation of the entire office is called for. We taxpayers are entitled to know how our elected official is carrying out the business of the office that he was entrusted to run. TRUST is the key word, can he still be trusted??????
Callie commented at 8/13/2009 11:20:00 AM:
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." ~Luke 6:41-42
taxpayer commented at 8/13/2009 1:50:00 PM:
Too bad Greg doesn't have the pull he thought he had with the ethics commission. Greg, just like you got caught doing illegal things during YOUR tax sale, you got your hand slapped again for trying to slip by another ethics rule. You are trained to not do these things. The state holds many training meetings where they go over stuff like this and you still think you are above the law.
Please watch who you try to threaten with retaliation. You will go to jail big time if we think you even are thinking about doing something like that. It's the law, make sure you know the law before you go after any of the employees.
Leeroy Jenkins commented at 8/13/2009 4:05:00 PM:
I want to know from what poitn of view you saw them in that office because that office sucks. From disorganization to ill-tempered and lazy employees.
john commented at 8/13/2009 4:24:00 PM:
It couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. I regret that I didn't file an ethics charge against him last year. I made the mistake of crossing him and he raised my tax appraisal by $10,000.00 after I had already received my appraisal notice. I did not know the appraisal had been increased until I received the tax bill. He definitely used his position to get even.
Bob commented at 8/13/2009 5:15:00 PM:
People are acting like a great discovery was made. A big "gotcha". Nothing was hidden. The Andrews have been working there for years out in the open for everyone to see and from my perspective doing a fine job. Have you noticed how quickly your auto "tags" are delivered. No fooling around. The office is very efficient. If Greg had hired her after they were married that would be one thing. But someone else hired BOTH of them and they were married AFTER not BEFORE they were hired. Just because she got pay raises doesn't mean they were not earned. I would say the Andrews have enemies somewhere out there who have built this mole hill into a mountain.
Jeff N commented at 8/13/2009 6:23:00 PM:
I have been here for 13 years, and have had pretty good results from Greg's Office. Unless it's the last business day in January (tax deadline), I haven't had any problems with the service. I own several cars and a home, and the tax info shows up on time....We may not like to pay taxes (who does), but working with the ladies at the counter has not been an issue. In business, that's called good service.
As for his wife being an employee of Lowndes County-Tax Office, common sense would have been nice on this one. She worked there before their marriage, and it's sad that a good worker was forced to quit. I'm disappointed the someone was forced to choose between job and family.
As for Greg's "actions", his office always seems business-like. One would wish that the Supervisor's Meeting would project similar professionalism and decorum, especially since their meetings are broadcasted.
I know that I will receive critism about my post. However, in this case, I feel Greg A. has been given the smelly end of the stick, and I don't like it. That's just my opinion. Jeff.
I know the secret now commented at 8/13/2009 7:32:00 PM:
You have to post your comments after the offices close in order for them to be on there for awhile. If you do it during the day, they can delete them if they want. Where is freedom of speech?Shame on you Birney and your lame reporters
joe commented at 8/13/2009 10:23:00 PM:
This is a witch hunt, after all these years they wanna step in now? There are alot of other problems in this county other than Greg's wife working there. That office does a great job, the work gets done and have not ever heard of any money missing. i am sure they are audited regulary by the state. If it's not broke dont fix it. When Greg is gone i am sure to bet alot of his good employes will be also, and then i think we will have REAL PROBLEMS.
keep supporting him, there is alot worse out there...
MLN commented at 8/14/2009 1:46:00 AM:
Did anyone ask if the other workers had also gotten a raise? She has worked there for 20+ years. She worked there before they married. No one told her to quit when he won office. I think that the state just needed money and went looking for it. For those of you complaining about how poorly his office is run, is there ANY state run office that runs smoothly?? I haven't found any in Mississippi or any other state for that matter. It's not the person, it's the fact that you have tons of "i"s to dot and "t"s to cross being a state office.
hello? commented at 8/14/2009 7:48:00 AM:
I have never had posts removed before, but have off of this one. Someone must only want certain things said. Not sure how the system works but what I had posted was not inappropriate. I will try again.
Whiners never win. While I will not defend wrong by the Andrews, I think that this ruling is a bit off base of the original intent of the law. How many of you would still be working for the same wage that you received 12 years ago? It is only right for good employees to receive pay raises. But whoever decided to make a point out of this can be praised - praise for successfully proving a point - if that makes them feel better. But I maintain whiners never win. Lowndes county lost.
New Man commented at 8/14/2009 2:48:00 PM:
IT IS TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE.
WE NEED A NEW CANDIDATE.
1. Ex-office manager arrested for embezzlement COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY