OPEA Requests Investigation of Tourism Department Practices

Oklahoma City: The Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) has asked Oklahoma Attorney General, Mike Hunter, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, and the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Special Investigative Committee to investigate the Oklahoma Department of Tourism to determine if the agency violated laws regulating employment practices, open records and meetings, and the handling of taxpayers’ funds. OPEA made the request through a December 15, 2017 letter from the association’s legal counsel, Fellers Sniders, Attorneys at Law, after an Oklahoma City television station aired several reports questioning the agency’s employment and open record practices.

“The employees of the Tourism and Recreation Department, citizens who enjoy visiting Oklahoma’s state parks and taxpayers who help fund the agency deserve to know that this agency is following the law. On behalf of our members, we have asked the attorney general, the Oklahoma County district attorney and the House’s Investigation Committee to look in to the tourism department,” said Sterling Zearley, OPEA executive director.  “Based on what we hear from our members and what was brought to light during the television series, a full investigation is certainly appropriate.”

“Oklahomans deserve to know if the agency disregarded merit protection commission and district court orders pertaining to the treatment of tourism employees,” he said.  OPEA also has concerns about agency open records violations, the handling of a State Auditor and Inspector’s report and a federal Department of Labor investigation.

“There are also questions about how the agency may have made payments using their clearing account funds and taxpayers deserve answers,” Zearley said. “There are too many concerns about the agency’s operations. The best way is to get some answers and put an end to illegal practices that may be occurring is to have a thorough independent investigation.”