Gray questions county attorney’s actions in oilfield waste issue, pushes for recusal

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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NATCHEZ — District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray on Monday called for County Attorney Scott Slover to recuse himself from any discussion and legal work for the county involving a proposed oilfield waste landfill.

“I think you need to recuse yourself because you are doing things outside what this board is asking you to do,” Gray said.

The comment came as Slover explained to the board members an apparent discrepancy he discovered regarding jurisdiction over the licensing of a proposed oilfield waste landfill in Adams County.

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The project, which was first presented to the supervisors in October 2023, would be built on land owned by District 2 Supervisor Kevin Wilson. The landfill management company, Complete Oilfield Disposal, is partially owned by Wilson.

Wilson had recused himself from Monday’s discussion.

Gray’s comments came during a heated discussion prompted by Slover’s update that he had reached out to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality concerning its jurisdiction over commercial oil and gas-related operations because of what he perceived as an inconsistency in state law and regulations.

Slover said MDEQ responded that it has broad authority over the regulation of commercial oil and gas operations, not the county as he had previously told the board.

Slover said he wrote a memorandum to supervisors advising them of this discrepancy and asking if they wanted him to seek an opinion from the attorney general.

Slover’s Monday report raising concerns about a discrepancy in jurisdiction was the first update the board had received during a meeting since April 1.

Gray questioned Slover’s actions, saying he had “a couple of citizens” who had accused Slover of “being his (Wilson’s) lawyer before he came here. If that’s true, then that’s a conflict of interest. So maybe you need to just recuse yourself completely from doing this. I never asked you a question about that, but your actions today are making me think that the individual who said that was 100 percent correct.”

After the meeting, Slover said it would be unprofessional to answer the question about who he has or has not represented.

“That’s a question you should ask Kevin Wilson. I will tell you I have always acted in a professional manner,” Slover said.

When contacted after the meeting, Wilson said he has never hired or retained Scott Slover.

Slover said he was sorry Gray felt that way, adding he was trying to be fair and present to the supervisors the information they needed to know to make an informed decision.

“I wanted to make sure this board was not exercising authority out of its scope. I’m not telling the board to do this or do that…” Slover said before being interrupted by Gray.

“Scott, the only thing I said was you work for the board. You –  right now,” Gray said.

“That’s what I’m doing,” Slover responded.

“No, no, no. You took it on your own to look into something this board did not ask you to do,” Gray countered.

“I did not ask you to do that. Maybe you’re too close to this situation and maybe you need to recuse yourself,” Gray said. “…I call it like I see it. It don’t smell right. I’m just saying it don’t smell right.”

While discussions continued about the application, Gray again raised the issue at the end of the meeting, asking Slover if he wanted to recuse himself.

Slover said initially he did feel comfortable, but that he did not feel comfortable because Gray had questioned his work.

“I feel uncomfortable now,” Slover said.

Slover asked that the board vote on whether he should continue to represent them on this issue.

District 3 Supervisor Angela Hutchins made a motion to ask Slover to recuse himself, but that motion died for lack of a second.