State audit: Mayor in northern Oklahoma profited from making purchases with city credit card without council oversight

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BLACKWELL, Okla. (KFOR) – A state audit into the city of Blackwell found that the mayor, TJ Greenfield, made purchases with a city credit card to a company he co-owned without council approval, and received a profit from it.

The audit report can be read in full below.

“We found that the mayor of was providing services to the city of Blackwell and being paid for them,” state auditor Cindy Byrd said.

The 57-page audit report shows 85 total transactions of $129,489.50 over 3 years.

Byrd said they believe laws may have been broken.

For instance, in the city charter, where it is stated that purchases must be brought before the council for approval.

“Yet, purchases made on the credit card were not being put before the board for them to actually look at the purchases and authorize them in an open meeting,” Byrd said.

The report also alleges violations of the Oklahoma state constitution.

“It prohibits any officer from directly profiting from transactions with the governmental entity,” Byrd said.

The city of Tonkawa also bought items from Mayor Greenfield’s concrete company according to the report. However, they sold them right to Blackwell. The report called it a “straw purchase.”

“They just purchased them on behalf of the city, never took possession, and the city got them anyway,” Byrd said.

The report slammed the Blackwell city government as well, saying when making the report, the state auditor’s office found that the city had been “embroiled in conflict, strife and political turmoil for many years.”

Later, the report stated that the political climate was “toxic.”

The city responded with a statement of their own, which was also posted to their Facebook page. It can be read in full below.

In it, the city acknowledges the report and said it resulted in changes in their city government. It claims they changed their “financial oversight, including increasing employee awareness of conflict-of-interest activity, implementing council approval of credit card statements and effecting more defined purchasing policies.”

“I think it’s very important to look at this report and for citizens to understand that it is never allowable for a mayor or city council member to be conducting business with the city where they are personally profiting from it,” Byrd said.

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Greenfield was reelected as mayor in a special election in April 2021. This came after he lost a reelection bid in mid-2020. According to the report, he still holds that position right now.

The Kay County district attorney’s office would not comment on camera. However, they told KFOR Friday that they have received the report and are reviewing it for any potential action later.

Byrd said it will be up to the district attorney to press any charges.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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