Stitt Administration Broke State Law, Refused to Disclose COVID Spending

In May 2020 Gov. Stitt signed Senate Bill 1944, which required the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to publish daily reports of all expenditures of funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on the Oklahoma Checkbook page of the state website. The measure was intended to protect taxpayers given the record spending associated with COVID-19.

The law took effect immediately, but Stitt’s administration did not comply with the law, despite serious concerns about spending abuses under the CARES Act.

An audit report that reviewed only a fraction of CARES spending found problems with how the state spent federal relief funds and handled unemployment insurance. The report said that at least $6.2 million was not spent appropriately or reported properly and in some instances the state paid for personal protective equipment that it may not have received although payments of more than $20 million were made to some vendors.

Stitt’s administration was unable to fully comply with a state legislative oversight committee that was charged with reviewing state CARES spending. The committee’s report found that the administration’s process for spending the dollars lacked structure, transparency, and clarity and used a highly subjective means for approving taxpayer funds. It also found that a significant component of the relief funds were potentially misused for pre-existing needs and government modernization.