Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Audit The AG, Now!

Pruitt admits to AG's office having millions that it doesn't need. 

Oklahoma Law Must Be Obeyed, Even By The AG, Scott Pruitt

  A primary reason why Oklahoma became a Republican state, is the long history of Democrat corruption and "good 'ol boy" dealmaking. And now the GOP club is risking that voter trust through hypocrisy and evading accountability.
  The latest chapter in this matter is the refusal of the Attorney General to obey the law which mandates a formal audit from the State Auditor & Inspector, Gary Jones.  When Jones began his preliminary work of notifying Pruitt and requesting that Pruitt provide the customary designation of a department communications director to assist the Audit or in scheduling and access to needed records; Pruitt reacted in complete obstinance and declared that he could instead hire his own auditing firm who would report internally to him, rather than the Auditor and Inspector.
  Pruitt has been in office for 5 years and is used to investigating everyone else. He obviously doesn't like being subjected to the same laws which he uses to dig into the affairs of all of us.

Gary Jones was elected Auditor on a mandate
to restore fiscal accountability to state agencies

Wasteful spending

  Pruitt has an annual budget of $13 million, from the legislature. But his spending has exceeded that number because of his department's own independent revenue streams. Asset Forfeiture and other punitive systems have been an increasing and unaccountable funding source for Pruitt's use. Yet the legislature has not been able to manage these funds, directly.

Making Money Off Crime

  It is a very dangerous threat to civil society when the government, at any level, relies on crime to fund any government services. The Ferguson, MO riots of last year were partially brought about through a city government pressuring municipal courts to increase fines collected, so that they would not have to cut city employees from the payroll.  Yet we see Oklahoma and other governments progressively moving to implementation of taxation through kangaroo court behavior.  The AG office’s overall budget exceeds $40 million when federal grants, revolving funds, case settlements and legal counsel contracts are considered. The AG Office gets $26 million from sources other than the state budget. That's troubling when you ponder how it enables the AG to evade the legislature's 'power of the purse' to keep the office from overstepping civil liberties.
 The Auditor & Inspector needs to audit the entire $40 million dollar operation. Not just the $13 million which the legislature hands the AG.
  Here's an example: In 1994, the US Congress elections were massively sweeped by the conservatives who thwarted the plans by the IRS to eventually audit every taxpayer every year. That oppressive plan was stopped simply by cutting the IRS appropriations through legislative budget measures.

  The Auditor & Inspector needs to audit the entire $40 million dollar operation. Not just the $13 million which the legislature hands the AG.

AG Office Flushed With Millions In Cash

This week, AG Pruitt announced that his department could be fully operational on about half the budget he currently manages.  [read story in Tulsa World]
 Pruitt has been taking $13 million from the legislature's budget. But now he admits that $6 million is adequate.  That revelation, itself, is grounds for an audit and inspection. We really don't know all the revenue streams or their fiscal harvest. An audit would tell us many things:

  • How much money is coming into the AG's office
  • Where that cash comes from
  • Where the money goes
  • Who decides spending priorities
  • What it would cost to adequately run the core duties which the constitution and the legislature authorizes
  • Practices which exceed the legislature's authorization and the constitutional mandates

Rumors of Opulence

  The capitol halls and rural coffeeshops are frequently abuzz with little stories of the grand accommodations secured by the AG's department. Office space rental has exploded. Chauffeured travel has been cut back by other departments (including Costello's Labor Dept. and Jones' Auditor & Inspector Dept.), but Pruitt is said to exceed all the other officeholders in travel expenses by the top executive. We, the voters, want facts, not department spin. We voted to have  periodic audits by a state office who reports to us. We require Pruitt to answer to us through the audit process which we mandated to law. Pruitt is not the law, and he's not above the law.  His intransigence is troubling and leading some to wonder if he can be trusted to enforce the law upon the rest of us.

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