Gov. Stitt cabinet member indicted for attempted bribery of an officer; witness alleges he thought it would help him become a tax commissioner

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – David Ostrowe, a member of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet, has been indicted for attempted bribery of an officer.

Fifty-two-year-old Ostrowe serves as Stitt’s Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration.

Documents filed by Attorney General Mike Hunter in Oklahoma County District Court state that Ostrowe committed the crime of attempted bribery of an officer.

Hunter said in the documents that Ostrowe committed attempted bribery “by directing Oklahoma Tax Commissioners Steve Burrage and Charles Prater to waive the interest and penalties of JCG Futures, LLC, which were owed to the State of Oklahoma and if not compliant with this directive, appropriations to the Oklahoma Tax Commission would be withheld.”

JCG Futures is owned by former state senator Jason Smalley.

Smalley says he doesn’t know why Ostrowe would do this. 

He says he’s never even met Ostrowe.  

“I don’t really know what he would have gotten out of it. He wouldn’t be doing me a favor,” Smalley told News 4. “Quite frankly, I’m not even in the legislature so I doubt I could even get a meeting with David Ostrowe if I needed to.”

Ostrowe is alleged to have said that if the penalties and interests weren’t waived, “State Senator Roger Thompson would punish the Oklahoma Tax Commission.”

“I’ve never known him to threaten anybody, or initiate threats of that nature. I know for certain, listen, if you look at the total amount, $5,000 is what we’re talking about,” Smalley said. “That’s not a worthy amount of money to be threatening people over.”

News 4 asked Senator Thompson about the indictment. 

“I have always and will always advocate for the citizens of Oklahoma in trying to navigate government bureaucracy. I have done this no matter their position and most importantly in accordance with the law.”

Sen. Roger Thompson

State tax commissioners voiced their concern to Stitt, who suggested that Hunter investigate.

The governor’s office sent KFOR the following statement…

“Chairman Prater asked for a meeting with Governor Stitt to voice his concerns.  The governor listened, did not pass judgment on Chairman Prater’s allegations and told him that if Prater believed further action was warranted, Prater should contact the Attorney General’s Office as it is the appropriate agency to conduct such an investigation.”

Hunter believes Ostrowe did attempt to bribe an official.

Ostrowe attempted to influence an official action, but the attempt was “prevented or intercepted in the perpetration thereof,” Hunter said in the document.

A multi-county grand jury then issued the indictment against Ostrowe for one felony county.

Ostrowe could face up to five years in prison.

Regarding Ostrowe’s interest is in helping a company with tax problems, one witness told investigators he believes Ostrowe thought it would help him become a tax commissioner himself if he’s ever nominated for the position.

Smalley, who owns the company in question, said he only approached Thompson for advice.

“I reached out to him and said hey, is there anything you can do?  You might want to look at the law,” Smalley said. “If they are doing this to me, then they are doing this to every other constituent out there. I think the penalties are excessive.”

As for Ostrowe’s alleged threat that Thompson would punish the Tax Commission if the tax fees weren’t waived, Thompson admits in the indictment to reaching out to Ostrowe to see if he could provide any assistance, however, Thompson said that’s advice he would have given anyone.

Stitt’s office issued the following statement in response to the indictment:

“Governor Stitt is aware of the allegations involving Secretary Ostrowe and takes them seriously. We are still working to obtain more information regarding the details of the situation. The governor has faith in the fairness of Oklahoma’s justice system which includes the presumption of innocence.”

GOV. KEVIN STITT’S OFFICE

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