Investigative committee to examine Health Department finances
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.