Fallin, others sued over Oklahoma Youth Expo money

By TIM TALLEY Published: January 10, 2013
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The demand letters and lawsuit were filed under so-called “qui tam” guidelines that allow private citizens to initiate legal action against a person or company that allegedly violates the law in connection with a government contract.

The lawsuit alleges that Fallin and legislative leaders authorized the Youth Expo allocation as part of a “nonpublic, informal agreement among themselves” in conjunction with a contract between the Youth Expo and the state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. The lawsuit alleges the allocation was never authorized by the Legislature.

“At no time relevant herein did the Oklahoma Legislature make an appropriation of public monies for Youth Expo,” it states. “Neither did the Legislature specifically make Youth Expo the object of any appropriation.”

The lawsuit states that state tax dollars are constitutionally dedicated for public purposes, not private entities.

“The taxes levied and collected during the times relevant herein were collected for public purposes and not for the private purposes of Youth Expo,” the lawsuit states.

Spokesmen for Fallin did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment, but they have indicated in the past that she supports the Youth Expo appropriation and that the organization's activities support the mission of the Agriculture Department.

Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese has said the allocation was made in accordance with guidelines that authorize a public-private partnership between the state and private entities to help farmers and ranchers promote agriculture-related endeavors.

The Youth Expo's website states it is the largest youth event in the state. The livestock show is scheduled for March 16-26.

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