Gov. Bryant appoints ex-staffer Shad White as state auditor

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Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Gov. Phil Bryant announced on Friday he would appoint Shad White as the state’s next state auditor.

Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday announced he would appoint his former campaign manager and conservative policy wonk Shad White to replace current Auditor Stacey Pickering.

Prior to the appointment, White — who ran Bryant’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign and worked as a policy adviser during Bryant’s first term as lieutenant governor — was director of the Mississippi Justice Institute and lead attorney for the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.

Bryant’s political protégé will take the reins at the Department of Audit in July, when Pickering leaves the office to become the executive director of the state Veterans’ Affairs board.

White, 32, will serve the remainder of Pickering’s term, which runs through 2019.

A former Rhodes Scholar, White is a Jones County county and a graduate of University of Mississippi and Harvard Law School. He will head the state agency responsible for monitoring government spending and investigating allegations of financial wrongdoing.

Bryant’s decision to opt against appointing a public official to the vacant post is unconventional. Since 1996, just four statewide elected officials vacated their positions. Three of those four times, Mississippi governors filled those spots with other elected officials.

Bryant also bucked convention in April by appointing Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran.

Many in Republican circles – including Republican political officials in the White House – had urged Bryant to appoint Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann or himself the Senate.

Bryant himself got his big political break in 1996, when former Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed Bryant auditor after then-Auditor Steve Patterson resigned as part of a court settlement. Bryant was at the time in his second term in the state House of Representatives.