The Oklahoma House of Representatives has been sent a bill mandating performance audits of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
Authored by Rep. Tess Teague (R-Choctaw), HB 2530 was passed out of the House Transportation Committee on Monday by a vote of 6 to 5.
And it drew immediate praise from GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Gary Richardson.
“Representative Teague has seen first-hand, from constituents in her own district, how the Turnpike Authority inflicts damage on the people of Oklahoma,” Gary Richardson says. “After decades of operating with no accountability from the State of Oklahoma and no oversight for more than 60 years, OTA schemed to use eminent domain to steamroll property owners near Choctaw, and the voters are justifiably outraged. OTA acts with total impunity, empowered by the belief they will never have to answer to anyone, and Oklahomans have had enough.”
Gary Richardson has been demanding both forensic and performance audits of OTA, along with state agencies, as a central part of his platform as Governor. A performance audit, which provides a detailed account of spending and stewardship, has never been performed in the history of the OTA. A forensic audit would root out corruption and malfeasance.
“Lawmakers should also be outraged by the blatant deception from OTA Executive Director, Tim Gatz, during his testimony before the committee today,” says Richardson. “Gatz claimed OTA already performs audits. However, he omitted the fact that those are financial audits which provide a fraction of the insight a performance audit would reveal. “
Richard said Gatz claimed OTA’s ‘major bondholders’ are a matter of public record but omitted the fact that disclosure is voluntary and up to the bondholders themselves.
“He also failed to mention that he used money, that was supposed to go toward fixing our roads, to pay off two high-dollar liberal lobbyists to bully lawmakers into voting against the bill,” added the former U.S. Attorney in eastern Oklahoma. ” I was a prosecutor for many years and I know this – anyone fighting transparency that desperately has something to hide.”