State Representative, State Auditor Spar Over Broken Arrow Schools Audit

Thursday, August 12th 2010, 5:59 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- An investigative audit into Broken Arrow Schools hasn't even been released yet, but it's already sparking fireworks.

What started out as a state lawmaker expressing his concerns about the audit of Broken Arrow Schools ended up with the state auditor red-faced and pointing fingers.

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, (R) Oklahoma City: "And I'll be happy to answer questions.

Steve Burrage, OK Auditor: "First of all Representative Reynolds, you tell lies!"

When state auditor Steve Burrage took to the podium at a news conference Thursday, his frustration seemed to just bubble over.

"I talked to you on the telephone two hours ago and you had a completely different attitude," Burrage told Reynolds. "I do not appreciate your attitude. I think you're arrogant."

The confrontation at the state capitol centers around a school district more than 100 miles away.

Auditors have been investigating Broken Arrow Public Schools controversial relationship with Air Assurance for about a year and a half. The district was accused of giving preferential treatment to the heating and cooling company and violating competitive bidding laws. That led to a superintendent being fired and a flurry of lawsuits being filed.

Auditors are examining the district's books to see if any wrongdoing occurred.

"Probably the most disturbing aspect of this is that it's taken almost two years to get to the bottom of this mess," Reynolds, said.

State Representative Mike Reynolds, with the House Government Oversight Committee, says after months of delays, he's concerned the audit will be watered down.

4/26/2010 Related Story: State Representative Believes BA Audit May Prompt Criminal Investigation

"I've had some concerns for some time that an orchestrated effort has been made to remove critical information or delay release," he said.

"We're getting it out as fast as we can and I make sure the accuracy of this audit is complete," Burrage said.

Burrage says he's had to work with the attorney general's office as well as navigate ongoing litigation."But I take very much offense in you saying  that I covered up information or anything like that cause I assure you that that will not happen," Burrage said.

Steve Burrage, State Auditor: "My audit will prove for itself what it's supposed to do.

State Rep Mike Reynolds, (R) Oklahoma City: "Thank you, Mr. Burrage and I have to say I did not accuse you of covering up."

The state auditor is meeting with the Broken Arrow school board next week to discuss the results of the audit.  The audit is scheduled to be released to the public on September 2nd.