Nonprofit Watchdog Sues State Over Sealed Tar Creek Buyout Trust Audit

The Washington, D-C based nonprofit watchdog group, Campaign for Accountability is taking State Attorney General Mike Hunter to court over a sealed audit of suspected criminal activity involving cleanup operations at the Tar Creek Superfund site in northeast Oklahoma.

The lawsuit, CV-2017-2335 was filed in Oklahoma County District Court against Hunter and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones for “failing to release copies of audits and documents related to corruption allegations associated with the management of the Tar Creek Reclamation site in the state.”

“While he was serving as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declined to bring criminal charges in response to an audit that found evidence of  criminal wrongdoing at the Tar Creek Reclamation site,” said Daniel E. Stevens, director of CfA. “Why did he refuse to bring charges? We don’t know because the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office has repeatedly refused to release documents related to this audit.”

The sealed audit stems from a 2011 request by Pruitt to Jones asking him to investigate “suspected unlawful contracting practices of the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Trust.” The trust was created to oversee the buyout and demolition of vacant homes near Tar Creek. But concerns of unlawful contracting practices at the trust had been brought to Pruitt’s attention by then-U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

Four years later in 2015, auditor Jones asked to release the findings but Pruitt denies the request stating “our office is concerned about publication of unsubstantiated criminal allegations against private citizens.” Jones stated at the time his office was unaware of “any unsubstantiated claims.”

“Scott Pruitt decided not to prosecute alleged corruption and has been trying to hide the reasons for his questionable decision from the public ever since,” said Stevens. “Oklahoma citizens deserve to know what the government is so intent to hide.”

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