Legal challenge to Oklahoma funds going to livestock show tossed

An Oklahoma County judge issues a ruling favorable to the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department and a private group that holds a prestigious youth livestock show each year.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Staff Writer mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: August 17, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: August 17, 2013
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An Oklahoma County judge threw out a legislator's lawsuit Friday that challenged $2 million of state funds going to a private group that puts on an annual junior livestock show in Oklahoma City.

District Judge Bryan Dixon issued a summary judgment in favor of the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department and the Oklahoma Youth Expo. The judge in April dismissed several legislators and state officials, including Gov. Mary Fallin, from the case.

Friday's hearing took an unusual twist when Rep. Mike Reynolds, who filed the lawsuit, was caught recording the proceedings in Dixon's courtroom on his cellphone.

“I didn't try to do it surreptitiously,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “Sometimes when you go to court it's kind of hard to hear what's going on. I tried to record it so I could go back and ask my attorney questions later about what was being said.”

Dixon waited until the hearing was over and then asked Reynolds to erase the recording from his phone.

Reynolds complied.

Reynolds filed his taxpayer lawsuit in January. It sought more than $7 million in damages and alleges state funds were given to the youth expo in violation of the state's constitution and laws.

Reynolds filed his lawsuit in the name of the state, which would have received monetary damages had he prevailed.

“I'm reasonably confident we will appeal,” Reynolds said.

Expo attorney reacts

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