Corporation Commissioners to explore any possible conflicts of interest over contracts


When Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners meet Thursday afternoon, they will examine whether any federal grant-funded contracts had the same kind of conflict of interest discovered last month by the State Auditor in a review of spending at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony requested the matter be examined during the public meeting. The item will focus on the agency’s Director of Administration, Brandy Wreath, and whether any employees or vendors selected by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services were hired under any of the statewide Contract pilot programs that also landed the former Employment Security Commission administrator Shelley Zumwalt in trouble with the auditor.

Commissioner Anthony’s agenda request asks blunt questions of Wreath.

“Since he became OCC Director of Administration, has anyone at OCC or OMES involved with Commission hiring, contracting or purchasing disclosed any conflicts of interest or engaged in any related-party transactions? Is he aware of any conflicts of interest or related-party transactions that were not disclosed in advance? If so, please explain in detail.”

It was a conflict of interest discovered by State Auditor Cyndi Byrd who found that when Zumwalt headed the Employment Security Commission, she continued giving contracts to a firm where her husband was employed as an executive officer. The initial contract, awarded by OMES, was made without competitive bidding when Zumwalt was not at the Security Commission. When she took over as Executive Director, she continued the contracts, even though her husband worked for the firm that received an estimated $8.5 million in contracts.

Commissioner Anthony wants to know whether the same kind of contracts might have been awarded by the Commission’s Administrator using the same kind of federal grants.

Shelley Zumwalt, who left the Employment Security Commission to become the State Tourism Director was met with fierce criticism from Attorney General Gentner Drummond who called for her resignation. Her nomination to the State Senator was later withdrawn by Gov. Kevin Stitt.