OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After the arrest of Epic Charter Schools‘ co-founders and former chief financial officer, more information is coming to light regarding how they were paid and what they did with their money.
Founders David Chaney and Ben Harris along with former CFO Josh Brock, created a scheme to use the Student Learning Fund as their “personal piggy bank.”
Cindy Byrd, State Auditor and Inspector, said in a press conference Thursday that $142 million was taken under the guise of the learning fund.
“Ben Harris and David Chaney used the Student Learning Fund as a line of credit to provide cash flow to their business,” said Byrd.
A section of the affidavit explained that Chaney used a credit card tied to the fund for personal purchases, including vacations and campaign contributions.
Harris and Brock added to the campaign contributions which totaled $460,000.
That money went to 54 House members and 10 Senators. All of them are current state lawmakers.
|Senators||House members||House Cont.||House Cont.|
|Paul Rosino – $5,600||Preston Stinson – $28,000||Denise Crosswhite Hader – $1,000||Steve Bashore – $1,000|
|Frank Simpson – $3,000||Chris Kannady – $14,800||Eddy Dempsey – $1,000||T.J. Marti – $1,000|
|Kim David – $3,000||Kevin Wallace – $10,300||Garry Mize – $1,000||Tammy Townley – $1,000|
|Greg Treat – $2,700||Rhonda Baker – $5,400||Jay Steagall – $1,000||Tammy West – $1,000|
|Marty Quinn – $2,000||Avery Frix – $2,500||Jeff Boatman – $1,000||Terry O’Donnell – $1,000|
|Zack Taylor – $2,000||James Grego – $2,000||Judd Strom – $1,000||Todd Russ – $1,000|
|Bill Coleman – $1,000||Jim Olsen – $2,000||Kenton Patzkowsky – $1,000||Tommy Hardin – $1,000|
|Brent Howard – $1,000||Jonathan Echols – $2,000||Kevin McDugle – $1,000||Trey Caldwell – $1,000|
|David Bullard – $1,000||Ross Ford – $2,000||Kevin West – $1,000||Ty Burns – $1,000|
|John Michael Montgomery – $1,000||Sean Roberts – $2,000||Kyle Hilbert – $1,000||Wendi Stearman – $1,000|
|Nicole Miller – $1,750||Marilyn Stark – $1,000||Chad Caldwell – $500|
|Alyshia Pittman – $1,500||Mark Lepak – $1,000||Jadine Nollan – $500|
|Anthony Moore – $1,000||Rande Worthen – $1,000||Josh West – $500|
|Brian Hill – $1,000||Rick West – $1,000||Mark Osburn – $500|
|Carol Bush – $1,000||Robert Manger – $1,000||Ryan Martinez – $500|
|Cyndi Munson – $1,000||Ronny Johns – $1,000|
|Daniel Pae – $1,000||Rusty Cornwell – $1,000|
|Danny Williams – $1,000||Sherrie Conley – $1,000|
|David Smith – $1,000||Stan May – $1,000|
Contributions by Harris, Chaney, and Brock spanned six years from 2014-2020.
The top two names in the gubernatorial race, Joy Hofmeister ($52,138) and Governor Kevin Stitt ($10,800), are also on the list of recipients.
State Superintendent Hofmeister said in a statement:
“It’s outrageous Epic’s founders would use the Learning Fund, meant for children, as their own personal trough for political contributions. Today, I have set in motion steps with the Ethics Commission to legally refund back to public schools any campaign donations that may have come from public funds via Epic’s founders.
And frankly, if they thought their contribution would ensure favored treatment by me, they were clearly mistaken as I requested this audit, fought to hold them accountable and directed the clawback of $20 million from Epic in misappropriated funds and penalties.”Joy Hofmeister
KFOR is awaiting a response from Governor Stitt’s campaign.
Speaking today with Cindy Byrd about other dark money contributions by Epic Charter Schools, former state auditor Gary Jones said politicians that received money should give it back.
“Give it to a good charity,” said Jones. “Or give it to back to the state of Oklahoma, it’s the taxpayers money.”