AP audit reveals secret account, questionable spending

An accounts payable audit revealed approximately $2.3 million in questionable spending within the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).

The AP audit, ordered by superintendent Janet Barresi, revealed that OSDE funds were deposited into an unofficial and unauthorized bank account that did not come under government oversight. The account was largely non-transparent, managed almost solely by officials themselves and not subject to public scrutiny.

Consequently, a plethora of unapproved expenditures were discovered for alcoholic beverages, food, lodging, entertainment and decoration expenses. These included "$2,600 for 85 bottles of wine and three kegs of beer and $5,700 for food items including a chocolate fountain, Maryland crab cakes, mini beef wellingtons, and smoked salmon mousse in a puff pastry" at a single event, according to the state Auditor and Inspector's Office, which conducted the investigation.

A spokesman for Barresi urged authorities to pursue any possible wrongdoing that was uncovered, underscoring the idea that misappropriation of public funds "can't be condoned or tolerated," as quoted by CBS News.

Former superintendent Sandy Garrett, who held the position before being succeeded by Barresi in January of last year, said the spending had been subject to government approval and called the issue a misunderstanding. 

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