Oklahoma Minority House Leader Scott Inman called Tuesday for an investigation by the state Auditor and Inspector into the relationship between the state Education Department and a nonprofit that paid for expenses at a 2011 education conference.
Inman, D-Del City, wrote to state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones quot
State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, a Republican, was in office during the conference.
“According to the article, these actions mirror a similar practice by previous Education Department officials under the leadership of former state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett, which your office investigated, then criticized,” Inman wrote.
An investigation released earlier this month by the auditor said Garrett, a longtime Democratic state schools superinten
Jones said what his investigators found being done under Garrett's administration was significantly different from what appears to have been done under Barresi's administration after a cursory examination of documents.
“The issue is not whether or not the Department of Education worked with a nonprofit to put on a conference,” Jones said. “How they handle it is the difference here.”
He said board members of the nonprofit under Garrett were not aware of the accounts, while his investigators found that under Barresi's administration the foundation was aware of the accounts.
“Every indication we have is that the board members did actually know what was going on at the nonprofit,” said Jones, a Republican who took office in January 2011.
Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, issued a statement calling the auditor's investigation inconsistent.
“If the practice of a past administration warrants investigation, then those same practices of the current administration should trigger similar action,” Virgin said in the statement. “I trust that Auditor Jones will do what is necessary to investigate any wrongdoing that may have occurred.”
Jones said an investigation must be requested by the attorney general, the governor or by both the Speaker of the House and the president pro tem for his office to have the authority to move forward.