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Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has once again sparked outrage following the release of an administrative audit, but that anger is clearly misplaced. No one should blame Gov. Stitt for the misspending of nearly $30 million taxpayer dollars because he told us he’s a good Christian, and his actions show us he’s above the law.
Isn’t it time for us to simply get in line behind him and shut up?
On Tuesday, an administrative audit from State Auditor Cindy Byrd detailed how improper oversight by state leaders led to the misspending of nearly $30 million in federal relief funds that were meant for underserved families during the height of the pandemic.
For instance, after receiving federal grants through the CARES Act (Coronavirus
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020) the state government was mandated to obtain sufficient documentation to ensure the payments were made for COVID-related expenditures and that the goods/services were received prior to payment. The state failed to do so, and according to State Auditor Cindy Byrd, the state tallied $12.2 in questioned costs.
But why should facts matter when power is at play? Gov. Stitt holds the most power in the state, and if he says he did nothing wrong, who are we to question him?
Audit finds mismanagement, special treatment
Oklahoma also received $376 million from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program, but the state failed to properly oversee the funds, instead allowing an OKC foundation to manage the program. The foundation charged an erroneous management fee, and Byrd found over $8 million in questionable and unallowable costs.
It resulted in some families being evicted, but why should that matter to a governor who recently made Oklahoma the first and only state to disband its statewide homelessness council?
Another $39.9 million was designated for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER). Two programs were birthed out of that: Bridge the Gap, which allocated $8 million to help low-income families pay for education supplies, and Stay in School, which allocated $10 million to help low-income families cover the cost of private school tuition.
Byrd’s audit found that Bridge the Gap had no proper oversight, allowing families to use the money for televisions, video games, and other non-education related items, a fact that investigative journalists warned about last year. Likewise, Byrd found the Stay in School program gave special access to certain families and funded tuition for over 1,000 well-off families who admitted they weren’t in financial hardship.
Everyone in Oklahoma knows that we are supposed to prioritize wealthy, evangelical families at the expense of the most marginalized because the bible tells us so.
“One of the things that we found is there’s a systemic issue across state governments with not making sure we’re following the guidelines of the grant requirements,” Byrd said.
But as a staunch Republican, Governor Stitt cares about being fiscally conservative, so I’m sure there must be a mistake.
Great leader Gov. Stitt ignores accountability
For his part, Stitt’s communications director Kate Vesper responded to the report by deflecting blame away from Stitt.
“During the COVID pandemic, Governor Stitt had a duty to get federal relief funds to students and families in Oklahoma as quickly as possible and he responsibly accomplished just that,” Vesper stated in an email. “The State maintains its position that a negligent out-of-state vendor should be held accountable to recover the federal taxpayer dollars in question, and the auditor’s report further supports that is what ought to happen.”
State Auditor Cindy Byrd said the governor didn’t have the authority to delegate management of federal funds to a non-state entity, but that shouldn’t matter because everyone knows being a great leader means hiding from accountability.
Ultimately, following the report, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has called for an investigative audit, and Byrd has warned that should the federal government demand its money back, Oklahoma taxpayers could be on the hook.
Yet at the end of the day, it’s irrelevant because we should be grateful that the governor chose to run for office and lead our great state. If we don’t like the fact that our governor is a lying, cheating, weak leader whose desire for power has him jumping from Trump’s phallus to DeSantis’s maybe we should just leave.
To view the full audit click here: State of Oklahoma.
Editor’s note: This article is satire. Gov. Stitt’s administration is in deep doo-doo.