Attorney General requests investigative audit of Oklahoma Turnpike Authority | Oklahoma

(The Center Square) – Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is asking for an investigative audit of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for what he called “improper contracting and purchasing practices; and inadequate internal financial controls.”

“I have had many conversations over the past few months with legislators, community leaders, private citizens and state employees who have expressed a wide array of concerns with the financial conduct of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority,” Drummond said in his letter to State Auditor Cindy Byrd. “Additionally, I am aware of a District Court’s finding that the OTA ‘willfully’ violated the Open Meeting Act. Such a blatant disregard for openness and transparency suggests to me a willingness to engage in any manner of unlawful conduct.”

The OTA was accused of publishing vague agendas for meetings held in January 2022 and February 2022, where the agency approved actions on a $15 billion turnpike expansion, according to Pike Off OTA, a grassroots organization that has also questioned the authority of the agency. A district court judge ruled that Oklahoma Open Meetings Act requires state agencies to list items for discussion on their agenda, even if no vote is taken.

The attorneys who represented the citizens in the open meetings case issued a statement Wednesday with Norman City Councilman Rarchar Tortorello.

“Since February 2022, we have represented clients who have been adversely impacted by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s questionable business practices,’ the statement said. “Recently, OTA has come under fire for its lack of transparency and disregard for the rule of law. We are optimistic that Auditor Cindy Byrd and her team will uncover the truth about OTA’s alleged empire of crony capitalism, secrecy, and mismanagement. We applaud Attorney General Gentner Drummond for his commitment to upholding justice in Oklahoma and look forward to working with him.”

Byrd’s office did not immediately return a message requesting comment on Drummond’s letter.

This article First appeared in the center square

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