Oklahoma Attorney General requests investigative audit of health department spending

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma’s top prosecutor is requesting an investigative audit of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s spending of state funds.

At this point, it is not clear if the request is related to Oklahoma’s COVID-19 response.

The Associated Press is reporting that Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter formally requested the audit in a letter to Oklahoma’s state auditor.

Hunter wrote that one of the duties of the attorney general is to enforce the proper application of monies appropriated by the Legislature and to prosecute breaches of trust in the administration of those funds.

A spokesperson for Hunter declined to elaborate further on the request.

Governor Kevin Stitt responded to the request with the following statement:

“In light of Congress providing Oklahoma with $1.2 billion in funds to respond to COVID-19, my administration arranged a few weeks ago a strategic financial team of public employees to closely monitor COVID-related transactions and to be prepared to account for every penny to Congress and the federal government. It is disappointing that the Attorney General would see the need to entangle the agency with an investigation when it is in the midst of responding to the most historic pandemic of our time. I fully expect quick and thorough compliance as we have already put strong reporting requirements in place.”

“The Oklahoma State Health Department has been committed to full transparency with COVID information and the Stitt administration’s proactive efforts to protect Oklahomans from the novel COVID-19 virus,” said Oklahoma Health Commissioner Gary Cox. “Every step of the way, the agency has been above board and quick to provide information, where legally able, on our transactions to anyone who asks, and we are confident the financial review will demonstrate our efforts for excellence to protect public health. OSDH is prepared to comply and provide any and all information requested by State Auditor Cindy Byrd and her staff.”

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