Analysis: In “sleeper” race, one candidate for state Auditor and Inspector sued for default on business loan
by Patrick B. McGuigan, CapitolBeatOK.com
The “sleeper” statewide race for Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector has begun to garner some attention, as detailed information comes to light concerning two of the three Republican candidates in the field.
As the primary election on June 26 nears, one Republican candidate is currently embroiled in a lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court. A second GOP hopeful appeared in 2016, as a Democrat in a state Senate race.
The legal entanglement of the first referenced Republican, Charlie Prater, concerns a debt that he accrued in a failed business venture. In court filings, he claims his original debt agreement was “induced and obtained by the fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duties of the lender and the managers of the borrower.” (That is quoted from Defendant Charles Prater’s Answer to Amended Petition and Third-Party Petition Point 15 on November 20, 2017). The barrage of claims and the lawsuit activity in court, along with Prater’s responses, is leading close observers of the race to question Prater’s ability to perform the state Auditor and Inspector’s duties. The job includes ferreting out fraud and identifying government waste.
Charlie Prater is no relation to District Attorney David Prater, chief prosecutor in the same Oklahoma County where Charlie Prater’s lawsuit is being adjudicated. To be clear on this point (where fuzzy answers and campaign chit-chat have fed scattered beliefs there are familial ties among the two men), CapitolBeatOK asked D.A. David about it.
The D.A. replied with restraint, and old-school wit: “”For the record. I’ve never met him. I couldn’t ID him in a one person lineup.”
As for the legal imbroglio, that case centers in part around allegations that Republican Charlie Prater of Edmond defaulted on his portion of a loan, in excess of $1.3 million, that had financed a now-failed business venture.
The lawsuit names Prater (Charlie) as a defendant for defaulting on about $124,000 (his share at time of lawsuit filing), initially owed to Liberty Bank. He had given his personal guarantee to repay that loan.
To sum up the details, Prater was part of a medical practice venture that included doctors and other investors who had originally borrowed over $2 million. The venture failed, leaving ABC Consolidated, who bought the loan from Liberty Bank, holding a note of $1.25 million. Of the 15 or so investors in the venture, only Prater and one other person have since failed to repay their part of the loan.
Adding to the troubles in recent days: In a May 24 hearing, Prater’s attorney was disqualified from the case because of conflict of interest issues.