OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director, Doug Elliott, fired back at state auditors during a commissioner’s meeting Tuesday morning.
The meeting was called to address allegations contained in the state audit report released last month.
That audit found what they called a toxic environment at ODVA and it also said there is a culture of fear and intimidation there.
“I don’t know what to do with this audit,” said Elliott, who expressed frustration with the audit, calling it politically motivated and a waste of money.
“We paid $130,000 for a special audit that looked back 3 years and found 2 minor concerns that were forwarded to the AG’s office of which they found no need to pursue,” said Elliott.
“I will contend this audit was politically motivated by none other than Brian Renegar and that that is being very pointed. But I will tell you that is what I believe happened. And this audit was basically misinformation and basically a smoke screen to basically prevent the relocation of Talihina,” Elliott also said.
The veteran’s center in Talihina has been a point of contention between ODVA and some state legislators.
“While this relocation is wildly unpopular, it’s the right thing to do. And I can’t do anything other than that. If that costs me my job today, then so be it,” said Elliott.
“Closing that center in Talihina is equivalent of Oklahoma City losing Tinker Air Force Base,” said Talihina town trustee, Don Faulkner, who made the trip to come to the meeting today.
He along with several others from the town hoped commissioners would take the recommendation in the audit to postpone a decision.
But commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with closing the facility and finding another location to build a new one.
Faulkner says they’re not giving up the fight.
“Tell me why is it they’re wanting to shut down a center that’s been one of the best centers in the state. Because of egos. Because they want to build a new center somewhere and put a name on it,” said Faulkner.
State auditor, Gary Jones, defended the audit at the meeting.
"There's no bias on behalf of our people. Our people are professionals. They did not do this audit on the request of any one individual or any legislator. They did this request based on the request from the attorney general's office to the best of their ability,” said Jones.
Commissioners were also slated to discuss Elliott’s job in executive session, but we’re told they did not take any action on his employment.