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Two Oklahoma DHS commissioners resign

Two members of Oklahoma DHS's nine-member governing commission resigned Wednesday amid concerns about conflicts of interest.
by Randy Ellis Modified: May 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm •  Published: May 30, 2012

Dow, appointed to the commission in 2009, at first didn't plan to resign, saying Henry's legal staff saw no problem with his being on the commission and serving as executive director of the Community Action Project, a post he's held since 1992.

He said he wrestled with stepping down from the commission.

“It was not an easy decision,” Dow said.

“The amount of time and effort that I've put in to try and bring about reforms has been substantial, and I don't believe the work of the department is through. I don't like to walk away from something before the job is done. But in this particular case, the choice was either to walk away from the job before it was done at DHS, to walk away from my position at CAP or to be inviolation of an ethics rule as interpreted by the Ethics Commission.”

Dow said he was aware that an anonymous complaint was filed against him in June when he questioned a DHS recommendation to require significant increases in the child care co-pay that clients of DHS would have to pay in order to receive child care services.

Dow wrote in his resignation letter to Fallin that he was surprised by the Ethics Commission's findings, but “insofar as the Ethics Commission is designated in the Oklahoma Constitution as the arbiter of the rules, I feel compelled to respect its decision. It is critical that the public have everyconfidence in DHS, and I do not want my serving to cause any distraction from accomplishing that objective.”

State Rep. Jason Nelson, who headed up a four-member House of Representatives panel that worked closely with Dow and Roberts, said their departures are unfortunate.

“It seems Commissioner Dow went out of his way to avoid any conflicts so the news is even more disappointing,” said Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. “Steven and Anne are exactly the kind of volunteer public servants we need more of, and I'm sorry to see them leave the commission. Because of the relevant experiences both Steven and Anne brought to the commission, it made them extremely effective in helping prevent an ill-advised trial in the Children's Rights class-action lawsuit and in helping craft the first-of-its-kind plan to reform our child welfare system under the unique settlement agreement in the lawsuit.”

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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