Mississippi Controversy,  Spotlight on Balch & Bingham

Goverment-Made Millionaires: Balch & Bingham Survives on Contractual Cronyism

Goverment-made millionaires should not abuse their advisory roles to fatten-up their own wallets with no-bid, behind closed-doors, million-dollar contracts.

The must-read Washington Post exposé about the Pimps of Mississippi, Balch and Bingham, is a devastating indictment of contractual cronyism and alleged government waste.

The Post writes:

Mississippi agencies have awarded Balch nearly 70 contracts worth more than $35 million for work since 2014, according to a review of state procurement data by The Post. It won the housing aid contract through a no-bid process because officials felt it had a strong track record.

The flow of billions of federal pandemic relief dollars aimed at curbing economic pain across the country appears to have been particularly lucrative for the firm, as it secured several aid-related contracts over the past 18 months and ultimately scored more than $6 million in fees, according to state procurement records and contract documents provided by MHC [Mississippi Home Corporation].

If there is any kind of “strong track record,” greasing the political wheels through long-time inside connections and keeping the contract process closed sounds more accurate.

As the Post points out:

Chris Wadell

Chris Waddell, a Balch attorney, already served as MHC’s counsel, and Balch had just wrapped up work on another MHC aid program at the end of 2020. The board voted unanimously in a Feb. 10 meeting to hire Balch to help create RAMP. “As such, there was no request for proposals,” Spivey [MHC’s Executive Director] wrote in an email to The Post.

Present at the housing corporation’s Feb. 10 board meeting, according to the minutes, were Balch partners Waddell and Lucien Smith. Smith is the former chief of staff to Gov. Phil Bryant (R), for whom Reeves served as lieutenant governor before being elected to succeed Bryant in 2019. Smith also served as chair of the state’s Republican Party until last September.

Shameful! The counsel of MHC, Chris Waddell, a Balch partner and well-connected Balch partner Lucien Smith are present at an MHC board meeting (obviously closed to the public) when Balch receives a no-bid $3.8 million contract from Waddell’s own client using federal funds.

So who is Waddell? Balch’s website states:

Chris Waddell focuses on affordable housing, economic development and public finance.  As counsel to Mississippi Home Corporation (the state’s housing finance agency), he has experience navigating both state and federal housing laws with particular expertise in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs), and single and multi-family development finance. As counsel to the Mississippi Development Bank, he frequently works with local governments seeking access to capital markets. He also represents the Mississippi Business Finance Corporation, a public corporation created by statute to encourage economic and industrial development in the state.

Three counsel roles at three Mississippi state government-funded entities means Balch is indeed entrenched.

How many contracts has Balch received from these and other affiliated entities or agencies?

Investigators needs to probe, audit, and hold the contractual cronies accountable.

Goverment-made millionaires should not abuse their advisory roles to fatten-up their own wallets with no-bid, behind closed-doors, million-dollar contracts.

Now that federal funds are involved, the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and those in charge of CARES Act funds need to take a deep, forensic look at Balch and their government and political cronies.


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