Mississippi Republican state senator challenging US representative plagued by ethics charges

Published 6:01 am Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Mississippi state Sen. Brice Wiggins said Monday that he is challenging U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo in the 2022 Republican primary.

Palazzo, of Biloxi, is a military veteran and served in the state House before unseating longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor in 2010 in south Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District.

Wiggins, of Pascagoula, was an assistant district attorney for seven years before being elected in 2011 in a state Senate district in coastal Jackson County. He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary A Committee.

“Our current voice in D.C. has failed,” Wiggins said in a campaign video. “I’ve got the experience and determination to get things done.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics issued a report in March saying it found “substantial reason to believe” Palazzo abused his office by misspending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother and enlisting staff for political and personal errands. Palazzo declined to fully participate in the investigation.

A Palazzo spokeswoman, Colleen Kennedy, said in March that the congressman “welcomes the opportunity to work through this process” and said the investigation stemmed from “false allegations made by a primary opponent.”

Other Republicans running for the congressional seat are Carl Boyanton, Raymond Brooks, Mike Ezell, Louis Charles Hook and Clay Wagner. Ezell is the Jackson County sheriff.

Democratic candidate David Seller, Libertarian candidate Alden Johnson and independent Jesse Graham Hudson have also filed to run.

Party primaries are June 7, with runoffs June 28.

The 4th District takes in all of 13 counties and part of a 14th.