Scott Pruitt revealed findings of Tar Creek investigation to subjects of the investigation

By: Justin Wingerter, The Oklahoman, February 2, 2018

An audit that uncovered an alleged conspiracy against the state involving public officials was shown to those officials by then-Attorney General Scott Pruitt in 2014, before Pruitt declined to file charges and prior to Pruitt’s unusual decision to not release the audit.

The former attorney general’s actions have infuriated state investigators, who learned of them several years after the fact, and threaten to shift the outcome of a pending lawsuit. They raise fresh questions about the improper use of taxpayer dollars at a Superfund site and the extent of long-talked-about corruption there.

In June 2014, Pruitt received a letter from Andy Lester, attorney for the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust. LICRAT was tasked with purchasing homes in the contaminated towns of Picher and Cardin in Oklahoma’s northeast corner, home to the Tar Creek Superfund site.

In the letter, which was obtained by The Oklahoman, Lester acknowledges receipt of the audit, which has never been released publicly. According to Lester’s letter, investigators concluded there was evidence of a “potential conspiracy against the state” involving the the now-defunct Oklahoma Department of Central Services and a contractor hired to remove debris in Picher and Cardin.

The Lester letter could play a crucial role in a pending open records lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court. Both the auditor’s office and Campaign for Accountability, a Washington D.C.-based group, have argued that Pruitt’s decision to release the audit to Lester in 2014 grants them the authority to release it to the general public.

A court hearing in Campaign for Accountability’s open records lawsuit is scheduled for Feb. 23. Jones, a Republican, has strongly disagreed with the decision by two Republican attorneys general, Pruitt and Hunter, to not release the Tar Creek audit and is now asking Judge Patricia Parrish to grant him the legal authority to do so.

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