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Oklahoma Land Office Making Changes After Embezzlement Case

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Essentially, back in 1906 Congress gave the state land and minerals to manage for education. Essentially, back in 1906 Congress gave the state land and minerals to manage for education.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

While state funding for schools continues to decline, one state agency is seeing an increase.

Thursday night we told you about the Commissioners of the Land Office. Essentially, back in 1906, Congress gave the state land and minerals to manage for education.

The Land Office's sole purpose is to make as much money as possible for schools. Now for about five years the office has invested in commercial properties. And what likely caused the change -- embezzlement.

In 2010 a former auditor pleaded guilty to embezzling almost $1.2 million. That caused new leadership to pay closer attention to what they do, especially under Harry Birdwell.

"One of the first things that I say to any employee at this agency is if you ever misuse one penny of our money I'll push you off the 9th floor balcony. And I think they've come to believe that, these are precious resources and the fact that we had a member of our staff steal from the children of this state still makes me furious. That won't happen on my watch," said Harry Birdwell, Secretary of the Land Office.

The office has also modernized how it processes the money it receives, and all of it is digital.

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