- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A former mayor accused of spending city money on trips, shopping and marriage counseling was authorized to use the funds and did nothing wrong, his attorney said Wednesday.

The attorney for former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis told the state Court of Appeals that Davis doesn’t have to pay back $73,000 because they were for his travel and training.

“The decision on how that money was spent would be up to the board and there was a docket where each item of Mayor Davis’ expenses was presented to the board for approval,” Attorney Michael Heilman “The auditor is asking that he repay claims that were approved by the board.”

Melissa C. Patterson, a special assistant attorney general, told the court that Davis never gave itemized expenses to the board and sought to hide his personal use of public funds.

“The mayor of Southaven decided to use public money as his own expense account,” he said. “He spent the money without any checks and balances from the board. The board never had the opportunity (to question the expenses); he hid everything he did from them.”

Davis’ attorneys say that according to state law, Davis did not have to provide receipts when he was reimbursed by the city.

Davis was elected mayor in 1997. He lost a bid for re-election in 2013.

Davis was sued by State Auditor Stacey Pickering for allegedly misusing more than $170,000 in city funds for trips, expensive dinners and clothing.

A Hinds County chancery judge in 2014 ordered Davis to reimburse the city. Records show Davis repaid $96,000 but still owes $73,915, including interest and penalties.

Pickering said Davis used public funds to pay for personal trips he and his wife took to Key West, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and to an Arizona clinic for marriage counseling.

The couple was married for 20 years until their divorce in 2011.

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