OKLAHOMA CITY - Investigators say the Scientology-based drug treatment center Narconon Arrowhead, located on Lake Eufaula, violated numerous state laws and should be shut down. But they also say the Oklahoma State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse hid the results of that investigation, and did nothing.Former Inspector General Kim Poff and Michael DeLong, the two highest ranking investigators with the agency, say they were fired after they objected to the state keeping the findings of their investigation secret and they have now filed a wrongful termination suit.
The OK DHS 2012 report that was apparently suppressed in this matter very much needs to be made public. In not doing so,that state agency loses any form of credibility to those it serves.
Now it can be told: Just days after we reported, along with local Oklahoma media, that Kim Poff had filed suit against the state’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuses Services (ODMHSAS), she was fired by another Oklahoma state agency, the Department of Human Services.Her attorney, Rachel Bussett, tells us she believes those events are directly connected.“On August 18, you and News 9 reported her lawsuit. And then on the 19th of August, the story was reported by the Daily Oklahoman and the Tulsa World,” Bussett told us by telephone yesterday. “It’s our understanding that Kim’s file was pulled the next day, on the 20th, and she was fired on the 22nd.”Poff filed a grievance over her firing, and after it was rejected, this week she filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
OklahomaCorruption Risk Report CardRank among 50 states: 38th Overall grade: Dhttp://www.stateintegrity.org/oklahomaClick a category to see detailed scores and notes.Public Access to InformationFview Political FinancingC+viewExecutive AccountabilityDview Legislative AccountabilityD-viewJudicial AccountabilityC-view State Budget ProcessesFviewState Civil Service ManagementD+view ProcurementAviewInternal AuditingB-view Lobbying DisclosureFviewState Pension Fund ManagementFview Ethics Enforcement AgenciesD+viewState Insurance CommissionsD-view RedistrictingFview
Home → Your State → Oklahoma → Oklahoma: The story behind the scoreBy Ziva BranstetterThe story goes that the state seal of Oklahoma was smuggled out of Guthrie, the original capital, in the dark of night, hidden in some dirty laundry or possibly wrapped in brown paper.The hastily arranged operation on June 12, 1910 that moved the state capital to Oklahoma City set the state on a path that it is still traveling today in regard to transparency. Oklahoma has a populist streak in principle, but power often remains tightly held in the hands of a few who prefer doing the public’s business in the dark. Those few serve a population that now totals nearly 3.8 million.While Oklahoma has an inclusive open records law, a variety of forces have been chipping away at the public’s right to know in recent years. Exemptions to the state Open Records Act have combined with lax enforcement and underfunded ethics agencies to create a recipe with potential for corruption.And so Oklahoma ranks 38th with a grade of D and a numerical score of 64 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International. No state received an A. [..]Ethics and politics While Oklahoma has enshrined its ethics commission in the state Constitution, many state government observers say the commission has been hobbled by a lack of funding. The commission is the repository for campaign filings required by law. It also sets ethics rules for office holders and state employees and investigates violations of the rules.While the commission has levied penalties in some high-profile cases, for the most part it lacks the resources to adequately police politicians and state employees, said GOP state Rep. Mike Reynolds. In 2008, Reynolds discovered a clause slipped into a bill that would have taken away authority of the commission to name its own director and allowed the director’s duties to be defined by the Legislature. That clause was thrown out but lawmakers continue to underfund the agency, “which is the ultimate interference,” Reynolds said.Bryan Dean, a reporter at The Oklahoman newspaper and past president of FOI Oklahoma, agreed that the commission needs more resources to do its job.“I think they are somewhat neutered by the lack of staffing and financial resources and some people have questioned whether that’s by design.” Another concern: loopholes in state laws that prohibiting state officials from arranging jobs for themselves.There is only one law in Oklahoma related to private sector service by former state executive branch officials. It prohibits an official from being involved in a privatization contract and then going to work for the company that contracts with the state. The prohibition lasts for only one year.[..][..]Oklahoma does have laws in place to prevent state officials from receiving gifts and perks while in office, but several elected officials have flouted those laws.Former Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher resigned in 2004 after he was found to have solicited more than $30,000 in furnishings and other items for his office from people who were regulated by the agency. He was convicted after pleading no contest to accepting bribes from a Texas businessman who was seeking preferential treatment by the agency.State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan resigned from office after being charged with accepting bribes, expensive gifts and trips from a businessman in the abstract industry, which is regulated by the auditor's office. He was convicted in 2008.Scandals like these often provoke a predictable cycle: A public outcry prompts officials to posture and promise reform. Laws are proposed, watered down in secret and by the time they pass, the next scandal has distracted the public. As Oklahoma’s favorite son cowboy comedian Will Rogers said: “People don’t change under governments. Governments change. People remain the same.”