OKLAHOMA CITY – The chair of the House Special Investigation Committee today said he will re-issue a subpoena to Oklahoma Department of Health Chief Financial Officer Mike Romero to appear before the Committee on January 12 after the Department filed a motion to modify the earlier subpoena in the District Court of Oklahoma County to delay the production of evidence and testimony for two weeks. The injunction was denied; however, Cockroft said he will allow the Department additional time to prepare. The subpoena will order Romero to appear before the Committee on Friday, January 12 at 1:00 p.m. at the state Capitol.
Cockroft noted the Department included a false statement in its motion to the court when it wrote that Cockroft denied the Department’s request for more time to prepare.
“The first time I heard from the Department was late Wednesday afternoon, by which time they had already submitted their motion to the court,” said Cockroft, R-Wannette. “They never requested from me more time to prepare. As the chair, I am the only person who could grant such a request, and I am fairly accessible. They certainly know how to contact me to make such a request. When I did speak to them later that night, they told me that the witnesses would not be appearing, without informing me that their motion had been denied by the court earlier that day. Unfortunately, it appears this is nothing more than a delay tactic from leadership at the Department. We have been told that the culture of deceit that allowed previous Department leadership to mismanage more than $30 million in taxpayer dollars is gone. While I hope that is true, it appears to me that the culture remains. We are going to continue investigating the Department of Health because the taxpayers of Oklahoma expect accountability.”
Cockroft said the Committee has also reached out to state officials at the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) to request they voluntarily appear before the Committee and produce evidence related to allegations of financial mismanagement and/or wasteful spending at those agencies.
Cockroft said he has contacted Dick Dutton, executive director of the Department of Tourism, Claudia Conner, deputy director of the Department of Tourism, Denise Northrup, interim director at OMES and Bo Reese, chief information officer at OMES, to request their cooperation. Cockroft said the Committee will issue subpoenas if necessary.
“We have said from the beginning that we are going to conduct a thorough investigation into the Department of Health, but that we would absolutely be following up on leads that may expand the scope of our investigation into other agencies,” said Rep. Cockroft, R-Wanette, chairman of the Special Investigation Committee. “There have been several news reports and various tips that we have received related to the Department of Tourism and OMES that we feel warrant further inquiry. We have no timetable for wrapping up our work. As long as we continue to receive substantive leads regarding misconduct, waste or mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, we are going to compel leadership at those agencies to cooperate with the Committee.”