OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gubernatorial candidate and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister requested a criminal investigation into the State Commission of Land Office.
Hofmeister sent a letter to Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater on Wednesday, asking that he investigate the CLO’s operations and finances.
“Enclosed with this request are documents provided by the CLO’s former internal auditor detailing potential mismanagement and misuse of taxpayer funds and improper use of office by a state official,” Hofmeister said in the letter. “Additional information has since been presented that leaves me with further doubt that the agency has been led in compliance with laws and rules, including but not limited to conflicts of interest, self-dealing and misappropriation of taxpayer funds. As a result, I am making this request of your office.”
The state’s superintendent is one of five members of the CLO. During the most recent CLO meeting, she asked that action be taken regarding Elliot Chambers, Secretary of the CLO.
A news release from the State Department of Education said Chambers fired Erin Morgan, an internal auditor who confronted him about potential conflicts of interest.
Hofmeister asked that the CLO’s agenda include discussing and possibly taking action on Chambers’ employment, as well as discussing Morgan’s firing and subsequent settlement.
She said Morgan’s allegations, as well as allegations from another whistleblower, warrant an investigative audit of the CLO’s operations and finances.
“As I have said recently, the concerns raised by the former internal auditor at the Commissioners of the Land Office are alarming and need to be fully investigated,” she said. “Since that time, additional information has been presented that leaves me without confidence in the direction of the agency under Secretary Chambers. As a result, I believe it is in Oklahoma’s best interest that Secretary Chambers immediately resign and respectfully call on him to do so.”
Morgan had questioned Chambers about his relationship with Victorum Capital, an investments firm doing business with the CLO. Commissioners voted 2-1 on Dec. 16, 2021, to give Victorum authority to manage direct investments for the CLO.
“Although the CLO historically has never had two votes constitute a majority, in this instance – with Hofmeister and another commissioner absent – two votes were declared sufficient to pass the item,” the news release states.
Hofmeister objected to the action. She later asked Chambers to request an attorney general opinion on whether the 2-1 vote is lawful, but Chambers refused. She then asked Attorney General John O’Connor to provide an opinion on the 2-1 approval, according to the news release.
O’Connor indicated he needed Hofmeister’s opinion on the matter before he would decide whether to provide an opinion. The news release described O’Connor’s response as “peculiar.”