By Rep. RICK WEST
The Oklahoma House of Representatives sent subpoenas to three top-level state officials last week before the officials agreed to speak with lawmakers. While we have withdrawn the subpoenas for the time being, they are part of an ongoing effort to get to the bottom of what happened with the $31 million lost by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
The chairman of the House’s Special Investigation Committee included nearly 40 questions for Interim Health Commissioner Preston Doerflinger, Office of Management & Enterprise Services Acting Director Denise Northrup and Chris Benge, Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief of staff. These three are not the only people the House is investigating. More subpoenas will probably go out in the coming days. But we should take this move as a sign lawmakers are seriously interested in finding where things went wrong at OSDH.
Along those lines, the House has also set up a whistleblower hotline for state employees. People interested in reporting waste, fraud and abuse can call 405-962-7890 and leave an anonymous and confidential message. These calls could help lawmakers do our jobs as we move into the next legislative session.
Other than that big news, things have quieted down for the most part. Not being at the Capitol has afforded me the opportunity to spend plenty of time in House District 3. I’ve enjoyed my visits with many of our kind senior citizens and members of our Choctaw community. Both of these groups are the bedrock of LeFlore County, and spending time with them has reminded me why I love being your representative.
I’ve also been fortunate to spend time with people in our higher education community. I met with Carl Albert State College President Jay Falkner last week, and we discussed parts of Gov. Fallin’s executive order aimed at administrative waste. After our conversation, I remain convinced Carl Albert State College should serve as an example to larger universities of how to wisely spend state dollars. There are a few state schools that could learn a lot.
Being home has allowed me to do a lot of normal-life things again, too – playing with my grandson, working cattle, paying my taxes. It’s been really nice to be home.
December is one of my favorite months because so many communities spend time celebrating the season. I was able to participate in three great Christmas parades across our district. Between Arkoma, Heavener and Poteau, LeFlore County sure can boast some wonderful holiday festivities. My grandson Bryce loved watching all of the kids and horses, and he especially loved seeing Santa come through our part of Oklahoma, as I’m certain all of the children did.
As Christmas approaches, consider making your way over to Lake Wister State Park to see the beautiful lights they’ve put on display. It’s such a sight to see. And please be sure to spend lots of time with those you love this season. If you’re anything like me, it’ll fill you up and make you proud to have such great folks in your life.
As always, I’m here if you need me. My email address is [email protected] and my number is 405-557-7413. Thanks, and God bless.
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