November 30, 2017
House Special Investigation Committee Serves Subpoenas to State Officials
OKLAHOMA CITY – The chair of the House Special Investigation Committee today served three state officials with subpoenas to appear before the committee and produce evidence related to apparent financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma Department of Health.
Subpoenas were served to Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management Enterprise Services and acting director of the Department of Health, Denise Northrup, acting director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, and Chris Benge, chief of staff for Gov. Mary Fallin. Rep. Cockroft said additional subpoenas are being drafted and will be delivered in the coming days.
The Special Investigation Committee was formed by House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) to begin conducting an investigation into the Department of Health’s use of taxpayer dollars.
“The mismanagement of more than $30 million in taxpayer dollars is incredibly frustrating for citizens and the members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives,” said Rep. Cockroft, R-Wanette. “It is inexcusable. Our constituents want answers, and we intend to find out how and why this happened. This is not a criminal investigation. Those are being handled by our law enforcement entities. But the Legislature has the sole authority and responsibility to appropriate taxpayer dollars, and we intend to make sure that is being done according to the law and for the intended purposes that those funds were appropriated.”
Article V Section 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution gives the Legislature the power to investigate governmental misconduct, and Section 7 of the House Rules empower legislative committees to “inspect and investigate the books, records, papers, documents, data, operation and physical plant of any public agency in this state.” The House Rules further authorize House committees to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony and production of evidence.
The committee will focus its investigation into the finances, state appropriations and other financial resources of the Department of Health and how they were managed. The scope of the committee’s investigation could expand to other agencies.
The Investigation Committee will hold several meetings the week of December 18-22.