Stitt Handed Out a $3 Million State Contract to His Donor — COVID Money That Should Have Gone to Hospitals Fighting the Pandemic

The Oklahoma State Department of Health granted a Kevin Stitt donor a $3 million contract to provide COVID-19 messaging and reputation management. The contract went to Renzi Stone’s company Saxum. Renzi Stone donated the maximum amount under the law to Stitt for both his 2018 and 2022 campaigns ($2,700 on Sept. 12, 2018 and $2,900 on 3/31/21).

Saxum was hired in 2020. The department and the firm entered a new contract this past summer. Monthly payments ramped up from $50,000 per month over the summer of 2021, to $65,000 per month throughout the fall and winter, and $95,000 per month in 2022.

The first service listed in the contract is pandemic-related messaging, such as pitching stories about the department’s pandemic response to local media and drafting talking points about it. 

The contract also covers messaging about the state’s public health laboratory, which Stitt controversially decided to move in the midst of the pandemic over the objections of lawmakers and public health organizations. As a result of the decision, the lab has had to outsource critical tests and has been under federal investigation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.