(BILOXI, Miss.) The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has spent more than $1,400,000 in public money on two recreational fishing boats leased from a foundation managed by the agency's director.
The Sun Herald reports that the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation supplies DMR with a 36 foot Topaz open fisherman and a 42 foot Californian convertible - valued at $350,000 and $284,000 for insurance purposes.
The newspaper reports that Bill Walker, the head of DMR, manages the foundation.
The revelation comes at a time when DMR is facing state and federal audits. The agency's use of public money to buy and conserve coastal property also is under scrutiny.
Walker told the Sun Herald that DMR leased the boats for the Artificial Reef Program to take people out and educate them about marine resources.