Auditor fails to show for budget meeting

By Michael McNutt Modified: January 25, 2008 at 12:41 am •  Published: January 25, 2008
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State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan has not shown up at his Capitol office since being indicted last week by a federal grand jury, his spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker filed legislation Thursday to create a special committee to investigate McMahan and determine whether articles of impeachment should be pursued.

McMahan did not appear Thursday before the House General Government and Transportation Committee to present his office's budget needs for the upcoming fiscal year and answer questions about agency operations.

Rep. Guy Liebmann, the committee chairman, asked McMahan's spokeswoman, Terri Watkins, if the auditor was in his Capitol office.

When told he was not, Liebmann asked Watkins if the auditor had resigned.

She said no.

Watkins said McMahan, a Democrat first elected to the post in 2002, has not been in his office this week. Monday was a state holiday.

McMahan did not return a telephone message left at his Tecumseh home.

Watkins said later that the auditor called her to say he was advised by his attorney not to talk with reporters.

A federal grand jury last week indicted McMahan and his wife, accusing them of taking bribes from a southeast Oklahoma businessman in return for favorable treatment.

Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, said he was not surprised McMahan did not show up at his committee meeting.

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After McMahan's indictment, several officials suggested the auditor should step aside until a conviction or acquittal occurred, but Reynolds said that may not be legally permissible.

Reynolds said there is no provision in the Oklahoma Constitution allowing an elected official to "step aside” while still retaining office. He said some legal experts think McMahan will effectively vacate his office should he step aside and, as a result, could then actually be impeached for "nonperformance of duty.”

Reynolds said he will ask Attorney General Drew Edmondson to issue a formal opinion on that legal question.

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