'Complete Confidence': Legislative Watchdog Defends Report Critical Of Governor's COVID-19 Spending


Thursday, February 4th 2021, 6:35 pm
By: Storme Jones


OKLAHOMA CITY -

A report from a legislative watchdog puts Gov. Kevin Stitt on notice for how his administration spent millions in federal COVID-19 relief funds. 

The more than 180-page draft report from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) is full of accusations and allegations. 

The group commissioned by lawmakers to uncover issues with how our taxpayer money is spent received harsh criticism from the governor’s team in their written response to the report. 

"LOFT has produced what appears to be an agenda-driven document which seeks only to cast negative light on the monumental accomplishments..." the team’s response said. 

“We have complete confidence in this report,” LOFT Executive Director Mike Jackson said Thursday. 

The report said the spending process "lacked structure and clarity." The governor’s team said they complied with all federally required reporting. 

LOFT said some spending may not meet federal guidelines - including pre-planned modernization efforts. 

The governor's team said discounting modernization efforts is "completely irresponsible and unsympathetic to the plight of Oklahomans in the pandemic." 

Among other expenses, the report questions $2 million for a tourism marketing campaign, $250,000 for a Cattlemen's Congress Event and $80,000 for office furniture. 

The oversight group said it was not provided any supporting documentation for more than $100 million in expenses. 

“It was becoming very apparent that maybe we needed to look at the processes that got us to the point to where we could not see the documentation in its entirety, according to government accountability standards,” Jackson said. 

"This assessment includes numerous inaccuracies and gross misrepresentations which call into question the entire credibility and usefulness of the report," the governor’s team said. 

“I was disappointed in some of the language of the response, but also I have deep respect for those gentlemen, and we look forward to trying to get to the bottom of it,” Senate President Pro Tem. Greg Treat said, R-Oklahoma City. 

LOFT’s presentation to lawmakers was postponed Thursday after a member of the governor’s cabinet who oversaw the CARES Act spending had a family emergency.