NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Investigative committee to examine Health Department finances

Oklahoma State Department of Health Interim Commissioner Preston Doerflinger provides an initial assessment of the current financial status and the future path forward for the agency at the Cleveland County Health Department on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 in Norman, Okla. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma State Department of Health Interim Commissioner Preston Doerflinger provides an initial assessment of the current financial status and the future path forward for the agency at the Cleveland County Health Department on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 in Norman, Okla. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]

House Speaker Charles McCall will empanel a special committee to investigate recent revelations of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The committee will conduct a probe into the Health Department's use of taxpayer dollars and could expand its investigation into other state agencies, McCall announced Monday.

"The allegations at the Department of Health are very concerning, and I share the public's frustration with the mismanagement of at least $30 million in taxpayer funds," said McCall, R-Atoka. "The Legislature has the authority to conduct an investigation, and our members want that to begin as soon as possible. This is a very serious matter, and I would encourage those associated with these allegations to cooperate fully with our investigation."

The Oklahoma Constitution gives the Legislature the power to investigate governmental misconduct, and legislative rules allow the House of Representatives to investigate the finances of any public agency, as well as the power to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony and the production of evidence.

State Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, will chair the investigation committee. McCall said Cockroft's experience chairing the previous investigation committee makes him a strong choice to ensure a thorough investigation. State Rep. Tim Downing, R-Purcell, who previously served in the Attorney General's Office, will serve as vice-chair of the committee.

Other members of the committee include

State Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Edmond

State Rep. Elise Hall, R-Oklahoma City

State Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore

State Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville

State Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City

State Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid

State Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond

State Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond

State Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola

State Rep. Chuck Hoskin, D-Adair

State Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester

State Rep. Cindi Munson, D-Oklahoma City

State Rep. Johnny Tadlock, D-Idabel

McCall said the committee will begin meeting following the Thanksgiving break.

A $30 million budget gap emerged at the Department of Health earlier this month, caused by what officials have said was years of financial mismanagement.

The Health Department allegedly traded and borrowed funds from different accounts within the agency. Accounting periods were also left open for multiple years.

The agency continued to submit budgets that appeared to be balanced to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, Interim Health Commissioner Preston Doerflinger said at a news conference earlier this month.

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

Comments