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Oklahoma Youth Expo lawsuit dismissed — for now

by Andrew Knittle Published: July 8, 2013

Expo funding spiked in 2012

Over the past decade or so, the state Agriculture Department has been providing public funds each year to the Oklahoma Youth Expo, which is billed as the world's largest junior livestock show.

Students from across the state compete in the annual show, many of them walking away with hefty scholarships to Oklahoma universities.

Typically, the state agency would provide roughly $180,000 a year to the private charity.

The money was supposed to be used to help offset the expense of holding the show at the Oklahoma State Fair and to provide scholarships to show participants bound for Oklahoma colleges.

But in 2012, the expo's leaders told lawmakers they needed $2 million, far more than had ever been requested before.

The seven-digit request — and how it was ultimately arranged by lawmakers — raised some eyebrows at the Capitol.

Documents obtained by The Oklahoman in May revealed that expo leaders used the $2 million in public money for a variety of things.

Records show the Oklahoma State Fair, which hosts the expo's annual youth livestock show, received more than half a million dollars of the special appropriation.

Expo leadership directed payments of $192,325 to the state fair to settle debts from the 2012 junior livestock show and to make a deposit for the 2013 show, held in March.

More than $350,000 was paid to the fair for expenses related to the 2013 livestock show and to secure the annual shows through 2016, according to the documents.

Nearly $182,000 was used to pay the charity's employees.

The remaining million dollars was slotted to help stabilize the expo's scholarship program, which now has seven-digit obligations.

Reynolds, who filed a separate lawsuit questioning the legality of making such an appropriation to a private charity in September 2012, said Monday afternoon that he will continue his fight to recover the $2.3 million funneled to the expo from the state Agriculture between 2010 and 2012.

“Nothing has changed on that,” he said. “I anticipate that order being vacated soon and moving forward from there.”

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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