|Whatcha Hiding Under there Scott?|
Last week, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt seriously damaged his political viability after objecting to a routine audit by the state Auditor and Inspector department. The state requires an audit of every state agency every one to two years, and audit that is traditionally done by the state Auditor and Inspector, fellow Republican Gary Jones. Yet when the auditors requested the ordinary information for an audit A.G. Scott Pruitt announced he was hiring an outside auditor to conduct the required audit.
By state statute the state auditor/inspector does these audits, charging the agency being audited for the costs incurred. This merely shifts funds between agencies and the auditor’s office budget is set with this in mind and the A.G. spokesperson claimed that the cost of an independent auditor “will be in line” with what the state auditor charges but the A.G.’s office has yet to quote any statutory exemption that would allow them to evade a state audit.
State law [74 O.S. § 212(B)] provides “Except as otherwise provided by law, the State Auditor and Inspector shall audit at least once every two (2) fiscal years the books and accounts of all state agencies whose duty it is to collect, disburse or manage funds of the state. The State Auditor and Inspector shall audit a state agency each fiscal year if that state agency is required to be audited on an annual basis pursuant to the federal Single Audit Act of 1984, as amended, 31 U.S.C., Section 7501 et seq. If the state agency is audited only once every two (2) fiscal years, the audit shall cover both fiscal years.”
Some claim that the standoff was caused after A.G. Scott Pruitt took offense at comments given by state Auditor Gary Jones gave in a recent interview, although the comments were actually aimed at Preston Doerflinger’s OMES office for giving millions of dollars in raises based upon a study, despite Doerflinger being in charge of reducing government cost and waste. Statements from A.G Assistant Hunter apparently owned the blame, calling Jones’s comments “critical” of his agency and calling Jones’ comments a “conflict of interest”. Other comments made by Jones questioned whether the A.G. office was increasing their spending while other departments were cutting budgets.
Regardless of whose panties are being twisted Scott Pruitt has done serious damaged to his political reputation by choosing this battle. The move shrieks of impropriety and fear of what might be uncovered. Gary Jones himself has a checkered past when it comes to his judgment on political matters but this doesn’t appear to be the case in this little slapping contest.