Listen to this article here

Oklahoma’s new Attorney General Gentner Drummond dismissed a lawsuit brought by his predecessor regarding misuse of COVID-19 relief funds. Former appointed AG John O’Connor sued ClassWallet for mishandling federal education funds for Oklahomans.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit will continue – just not against ClassWallet. AG Drummond has vowed to go after the state officials responsible for the misuse of Oklahoma funds, rather than organizations.

For months, Gov. Stitt and State Superintendent Ryan Walters have faced criticism for their roles in mishandling the funds.

Misused funds went to home accessories instead of education

Following the federal government’s passage of the CARES Act to provide financial relief during COVID-19, ClassWallet set out to distribute funds in Oklahoma. However, an audit found gross misuse of funds set aside for Oklahoma families.

Oklahoma families were initially awarded over $31 million in GEER (Governor’s Education Emergency Relief) funds. Yet many of the expenditures and processes surrounding the distribution of funds were questionable and shady.

 Rather than supporting Oklahoma families, the money funded video game consoles, home appliances, furniture, smartphones, Christmas trees, and other disallowed items. A report by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General found the financial discrepancies.

According to AG Drummond, “After a thorough review of this matter, I have concluded that the lawsuit filed by the previous Attorney General is almost wholly without merit. It is clear that a number of state actors and other individuals are ultimately responsible for millions in misspent federal relief dollars.”

Drummond continued, “This matter is far from concluded. My office will continue engaging with various Oklahoma state and federal agencies to investigate this egregious misuse of tax dollars.”

Oklahoma’s former, appointed AG John O’Connor spread controversy, alleged corruption

This is not the first time that former AG O’Connor did Oklahomans wrong. He previously tried to sue and intimidate members of the State’s Pardon and Parole Board after they recommended a commuted sentence for former death row detainee Julius Jones.

O’Connor also joined with 21 other states’ Attorney Generals in suing the Biden administration for pushing a “pro-transgender” agenda in Oklahoma schools. The Biden administration issued guidance to schools requiring that federal Title IX provide protection for students of all gender identities.

AG Drummond was sworn in on January 9, 2023. He is the third Oklahoma AG in six years.  

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...