Concealment of Tar Creek audit is likely unprecedented in Oklahoma history, former auditors say
A decision by the Oklahoma attorney general’s office in recent years to not release an audit that reportedly uncovered evidence of a conspiracy against the state is unprecedented in modern Oklahoma history — and perhaps in the entirety of Oklahoma history — according to former state officials.
“I’m almost sure it never happened,” said Clifton Scott, who held the position of state auditor as long as anybody in Oklahoma history, between 1983 and 2003.
The audit in question concerns the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust, a board established to provide assistance to residents of far northeast Oklahoma whose health was threatened by the Tar Creek Superfund site.
In 2014, then-Attorney General Scott Pruitt refused to allow an audit that uncovered alleged fraud to be released. Mike Hunter, the current attorney general, has continued that policy. He did not respond to requests for an interview.
Drew Edmondson, who was attorney general from 1995 to 2011, said he can’t recall a time when an audit was withheld from the public. He said state agencies “should err on the side of openness when it comes to the records in their possession. That was how we viewed documents during my time as attorney general.”
The Tar Creek audit is the subject of an ongoing open records lawsuit by Campaign for Accountability, a Washington, D.C. group. On Feb. 23, an Oklahoma County judge rejected Hunter’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and gave the attorney general’s office 30 days to respond.