State Health Department Scandal: Who Knew What When?
OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Board of Health met and fired the agency’s director of accountability Tuesday. That’s the third top official out of a job at the agency since news that the department misspent at least $30-million.
But board members are refusing to answer questions about how that much money could be misspent over at least six years without anyone noticing.
Monday, Health Department Interim Director Preston Doerflinger testified before a House investigative committee, he didn’t know *anything* about the misspending until late October.
“You’re the secretary of finance and revenue. The director. And you’re acting like you didn’t know anything about this until one week before it went down,” said Representative Bobby Cleveland (R).
Doerflinger responded, “That’s correct.”
But State Auditor Gary Jones said that’s not true. “I notified Preston Doerflinger on September first that there were some issues. Didn’t know exactly what the magnitude was. Had another conversation with him on September 7th.”
During that conversation, Jones said he told Doerflinger there was at least $10-million misspent and the agency probably wouldn’t make payroll in November.
“Given the magnitude of this, why not go right to the top? To the governor?” News 9’s Aaron Brilbeck asked Jones.
“Well the person who is in charge of finance is Preston Doerflinger,” Jones responded.
Brilbeck asked Doerflinger, “So should he have gone to you first or the governor first?”
Doerflinger responded, “I can’t speak to that. I think that there are a lot of places he could have gone or should have gone.”
Doerflinger insists, Jones didn’t tell him how serious the matter was until late October. Only that, “That there were issues at the State Department of Health.”
Last week, the agency announced almost 200-layoffs. Doerflinger said the agency is so bloated those layoffs won’t have an impact on services. He said there could be further job cuts as services are evaluated.