OBSI launches criminal investigation into Land Office Commissioners | New

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The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has opened a criminal investigation into the Land Bureau Commissioners following a request from the Oklahoma County District Attorney.

In a letter dated July 1, District Attorney David Prater asked the agency to investigate the Land Office after allegations of embezzlement of public funds, conflicts of interest and misuse of his duties by a state official surfaced. State Superintendent and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joy Hofmeister, one of five members of the Land Office commissioners, called for the investigation after the Tulsa World reported that the agency’s internal auditor had was fired after considering a potential conflict of interest between agency chief Elliot Chambers. and Victorum Capital, a company hired to manage the agency’s direct investments.

“The Land Office commissioners are aware of the CLO’s audit and investigation requests,” said spokesman David White. “Agency staff will cooperate fully with any audit or investigation initiated in response to these requests.”

Prater said he could not provide additional information or comment further.

Capt. Beth Green, spokeswoman for the State Bureau of Investigation, confirmed that the investigation is active.

Prater also wrote that he had asked State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd to conduct a forensic audit of the Land Office. Byrd’s office did not immediately respond to The Frontier’s request for comment on the status of the audit.

In June, Governor Kevin Stitt asked Byrd to launch a financial and operational audit of the Commissioners Land Office. But Byrd, who is also a member of the commission, told the Tulsa World she could not conduct the audit because of the conflict of interest.

Chambers announced on June 30 that he planned to step down as Secretary of the Land Office Commissioners in August. Stitt appointed Chambers in 2020 to lead the agency, which manages public lands and other assets to help fund public education in the state.

Carly Atchison, Stitt’s spokeswoman, said the governor’s office is not commenting on ongoing investigations.

The Land Office investigation is the second criminal investigation by a state agency to make headlines this year.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation after allegations of financial mismanagement in connection with a contract with Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen to operate restaurants in state parks.

The Frontier is an independent nonprofit news source based in Tulsa. Content from Frontier is republished in The Transcript through a special content agreement. For more information on The Frontier, visit readfrontier.org.

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