Oklahoma Alert-STOP the Backroom Dealing!

Backroom dealing!!

Kaye Beach

July 19, 2012

Why is the Oklahoma legislature, in flagrant disregard of our state Constitution, bailing out a private organization?  How do you or I get one of these generous donations of taxpayer money?

Over $2.2 million has already been funneled through the state Department of Agriculture over the past 11 years to the Youth Expo and now lawmakers want to bestow another $ 2 million of our tax dollars to this private organization.

Who is Bob Funk? 

Bob Funk is the lead cheerleader for this “World Series of the agriculture industry” also known as the Youth Expo. Bob Funk also happens to be a big Republican campaign donor.  Apparently his pet project, the Youth Expo, is facing some financial difficulties.

Maybe he should have sunk his own funds into the project instead of sinking so much into campaign donation but either way it appears the bills will get paid.

There is a problem though.  While our legislative leaders are only too happy to help Mr. Funk out, it is illegal!   Our state constitution prohibits giving gifts of taxpayer money to non-government organizations.  Apparently this sort of funny money business has been going on for years but lawmakers are now making a greater effort to hide their political payola.  At least in the past the money, questionable as it is, was at least included in the state appropriations bill.  Not so this year.   Instead of slipping the gift in the appropriations bill, it appears that our lawmakers and the Ag Dept. made arrangements directly with Mr. Funk and added and bonus to boot!

Read the Tulsa World article about the whole mess.

It makes me wonder how many more sweet deals have gotten past us. It doesn’t matter one bit if the organization is a good cause or not-this is not how we want our government operating!

Thankfully this is not yet a done deal.  Call the Governor’s office and your state legislators first thing in the morning and tell them to do the right thing and stop this!

July 20, 2012A reader comments;

‘I just got a call back from Comm of Ag Jim Reese. 7:48 AM. I called his office this morning @ 7:28 AM. He said he has read the constitution and he does not think it is illegal for a private entity to receive tax dollars. He said “What is illegal about it?” “I have to buy staples and paper”’

How does Commissioner Reese miss the fact that the money being given or “gifted” if you will, is not for any good or services?  It is a GIFT of our tax dollars-NOT a payment.

 

Don’t know who your state senator or representative is?  Now is a darn good time to find out.  Click here

Contact info for House members

Contact info for Senate members

Governor Mary Fallin - 405-521-2342 or info@gov.ok.gov

If you are still fired up after that-give these two a call too!

Commissioner of Agriculture – Jim Reese - 405-522-5719 or jim.reese@ag.ok.gov

 State Treasurer – Ken Miller - 405-521-3191 or ken.miller@treasurer.ok.gov

5 responses to “Oklahoma Alert-STOP the Backroom Dealing!

  1. I just got a call back from Comm of Ag Jim Reese. 7:48 AM. I called his office this morning @ 7:28 AM. He said he has read the constitution and he does not think it is illegal for a private entity to receive tax dollars. He said “What is illegal about it?” “I have to buy staples and paper”….I did not follow that logic.
    I told him that he “might want to check with the AG and find out instead of just doing what he has been told to do. This is not good for the “Gene Stipe type of politics to be going on.” He said he “did not think it is Gene Stipe type politics, because the legislature voted on it and his office is just doing what the legislature voted on.”

  2. Here’s the problem. In this instance- They are NOT purchasing goods or services. They are simply giving or “gifting” this private entity with our tax dollars. Reese know the difference

  3. Joe Fairyspanx

    My family’s believed in things like this for years. We don’t need a real free market, we need a mitigated and controlled versio nof the free market. It promotes jobs, after all, and isn’t that more important than rigid constitutional adherence? Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m having a private Rock Hudson movie marathon at my house that I need to get back to.

  4. Jim Reese’s email response: “Thank you for your email and visit on the phone concerning the appropriation to the Oklahoma Youth Expo. The following is a more complete answer and explanation of the legislation. Thanks again.

    The appropriation to the Department of Agriculture was increased 2 million dollars specifically for the purpose of funding the Oklahoma Youth Expo. It was reported both on May 24th and May 25th in The Oklahoman that 2 million dollars was to go to the Youth Expo. I have confirmed with the Governor, the House Speaker, the Senate Pro Tem, the House and Senate Appropriation Chairs, and the Natural Resources Subcommittee Chairs that the 2 million dollars was part of the budget agreement and was included in SB-1975. Section 99 of SB 1975 appropriates $5.87 million to the Department of Agriculture. This total represents $3.87 million for voluntary rural fire department operational grants and $2 million for the Oklahoma Youth Expo contract. Both of these expenditures are very similar in nature. The Department of Agriculture contracts with the 879 local voluntary fire departments in communities under 5000 people to help serve fire protection in this state. Similarly, the Department of Agriculture contracts with the Oklahoma Youth Expo to operate the largest junior livestock show in the world. Scholarships won and given by the Oklahoma Youth Expo are paid to Oklahoma colleges when these Oklahoma students attend the in-state college of their choice.

    In response to the legal authority for the Department of Agriculture to make this contract expenditure, Attorney General Opinion 1987 OK AG 100 states that a state agency may undertake a contract with a private entity so long as its legislative powers include funding support for a given purpose, and there is not another statutory or constitutional prohibition implicated. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture clearly has statutory authority to contract with outside entities for a multitude of purposes. 2 O.S. § 2-4(12) and (29) gives the State Board of Agriculture the power to “ Advise, consult, cooperate, and enter into agreements or contracts with persons as defined in the Oklahoma Agricultural Code…” and to “Exercise all incidental powers which are necessary and proper to implement and administer the purposes of the Oklahoma Agricultural Code….” An example of the Department’s private public partnership authority is found at 2 O.S. § 2-4(15), providing the Department ability to contract with “… the federal government, local political subdivisions of the state, individuals, private organizations, companies, and corporations for protection and for the suppression of fires and to expend funds as available for these services.” In addition, the 2001 Legislature specifically gave the Department authority in 2 O.S. § 5-1.1 to be “authorized, on behalf of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural-related parties to assist, promote, or provide services in agribusiness-related areas, rural community development, and other public service entities as funds are made available and approved by the State Board of Agriculture.”

    The Oklahoma Youth Expo is a public/private partnership that assists and promotes agricultural rural community development. Rural communities all across the state have livestock shows to qualify for a County Livestock show, to qualify for the Oklahoma Youth Expo and the Tulsa State Fair Livestock show. Each one of these local and state shows benefits rural community development. These shows involve over 7,000 children in all 77 Oklahoma counties and generate over $30 million in economic impact to the state, helping to support jobs and businesses while generating tax revenue. Scholarships won are for Oklahoma students who attend Oklahoma colleges.

    With the legislative intent clear and with statutory authority, I intend to contract with the Oklahoma Youth Expo to operate the world’s largest junior livestock show. To ensure that $2 million is not required next year, we are adding a provision to our contract to provide an actuarial table showing that current scholarship claims, and future scholarship claims are endowed.

    Jim Reese
    Secretary of Agriculture
    State of Oklahoma
    405-365-0932 (cell)
    jim.reese@ag.ok.gov
    From: West Family [mailto:stephanie.west1@mac.com]
    Sent: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:30 PM
    To: Jim Reese
    Subject: $2 million that has been allocated to the Dept of Agriculture for the private funding of the “Youth Expo”

    Jim Reese,
    As director of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. You are appointed by the Governor and have significant influence on the operation and expenditures of the department. You and the state board of agriculture have final say over what the agency does. Mr. Reese as a former legislator, you are aware of the Oklahoma constitution and the ability you have, to refuse to send funds to the Oklahoma Youth Expo and to make sure the constitution is obeyed. You are in a very unique position to stop this illegal action because you also serve on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Obviously, since you have sworn to uphold the Oklahoma constitution, both in your current position and when you were a legislator, you should be interested in making sure that funds are not spent in direct violation of the gift clause and the requirement for the agriculture department to spend funds as mandated by law.
    Please respond as soon as possible.
    Blessings,
    Stephanie West

  5. DelroyMonjo

    “Over $2.2 million has already been funneled through the state Department of Agriculture over the past 11 years to the Youth Expo and now lawmakers want to bestow another $ 2 million of our tax dollars to this private organization.”
    One would think that sometime, after the initial gov’t ‘boost’ to get the program going, it would be able to stand on its own. For the gov’t, R or D. to say “We’ve always done it that way.”, just doesn’t CUT IT!

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