JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's state auditor is demanding that a chancery clerk pay the state nearly $39,000.

Auditor Shad White says Noxubee County Chancery Clerk Mary Washington illegally donated nearly $20,000 in public money intended for office expenses to multiple churches from 2010 through 2012.

The $39,000 total includes interest and investigative costs as well.

White says he'll sue in civil court if Washington doesn't repay the money.

Washington didn't respond Monday to a request for comment by The Clarion Ledger.

It's generally illegal in Mississippi to donate public money to private groups without a law giving permission.