Selmon pays $40 for mailed vote pleas

Published 11:25 am Tuesday, October 2, 2012

District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon Monday handed a personal check for $40 to county officials to cover what he termed “problems and mistakes” stemming from political letters mailed out on Warren County’s dime.

Letters returned to the courthouse undeliverable or with bad addresses turned up with postage metered in the Warren County Chancery Clerk’s Office. The last one was dated Sept. 11 and mailed at the first-class domestic rate of 45 cents.

In each, Selmon, a recent past president of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors, asked voters to support local attorney Ceola James in her bid for a seat on the state Court of Appeals. Each envelope, which Selmon has said numbered about 12, also included a campaign flier.

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“Two weeks ago, we had some problems and mistakes as it relates to mailing,” Selmon said near the end of supervisors’ regular meeting. “I would like at this time to donate a check for $40 as well as stamps.”

Calls to Selmon went unanswered. On Sept. 20, Selmon said he supplied the office secretary with stamps before letters were mailed.

After Monday’s meeting, Board President Bill Lauderdale said Selmon’s $40 would “replenish the stamps and for labor and materials.”

Metered mail carries codes to charge the activity to the entity that uses it, in this case, Warren County.

Supervisors approved a claims docket for September that included charges associated with use of the meter. Activity reports from the machine, leased to the county by manufacturer Pitney Bowes Inc., track mail over a month’s time but don’t specify how many were mailed using codes unique to county departments that use it. Meters handle bulk mail for the chancery, circuit clerk, tax collector, sheriff’s department, district attorney and the local branch of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

The Office of the State Auditor, which oversees public funds, said the situation most closely relates to the law on donations, which are defined broadly as expenses the board isn’t obligated to pay.

James is challenging incumbent Appeals Court Judge Ermea J. Russell for the court seat that covers District 2, Place 2. The race will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Selmon, first elected in 1995, headed the state’s county-level advocate association for the 2011-12 term.