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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Jeff L. Todd, lead attorney for the Oklahoma Youth Expo, said Dixon's decision should end the matter.

“It should vindicate the OYE for all of the bad press that it's gotten lately,” Todd said.

“He ruled that the Department of Ag had the authority to enter into a contract with OYE and that it was clearly for a public purpose as it promoted agriculture and that the OYE provided a tremendous economic benefit to the state.”

Reynolds had alleged in the suit that state funding violates the Oklahoma Constitution's prohibition of gifts of public money.

He also claimed that the $2 million for the expo — which was part of a budget deal worked out in the closing days of the 2012 session by legislative leaders and Fallin — was not authorized by an appropriations bill.

Those allegations were dismissed in April.

‘Battle will go on'

Dixon ruled on the lawsuit's two remaining allegations that the contract between the Agriculture Department and the Oklahoma Youth Expo violated the state's central purchasing act and that the contract was illegal because the state did not receive anything of value in exchange for its money.

“The youth expo and others will claim today that they've had a victory,” Reynolds said.

“Well, they won in court, but it was sure a loss for the citizens of Oklahoma. This battle will go on. We don't give up easily.”

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