OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 31, 2023) – Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond dismissed a lawsuit today that was filed by his predecessor in the wake of an audit that questioned the handling of millions in federal COVID relief dollars.
Former Attorney General John O’Connor filed the suit last August after a scathing audit by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found questionable expenditures and processes surrounding $31 million in GEER (Governor’s Education Emergency Relief) funds. The OIG report identified that funds intended to help families with education expenses were instead spent on video game consoles, home appliances, furniture, smartphones and Christmas trees, among other disallowed items.
Drummond previously expressed skepticism over the lawsuit, which accuses a Florida-based vendor of wrongdoing instead of holding accountable those responsible for causing the funds to be misspent.
“After a thorough review of this matter, I have concluded that the lawsuit filed by the previous Attorney General is almost wholly without merit,” Drummond said. “It is clear that a number of state actors and other individuals are ultimately responsible for millions in misspent federal relief dollars.”
Drummond said the dismissal of the civil action against the vendor, ClassWallet, means his office will now focus on which individuals should be held accountable based on their role in causing relief dollars to be misspent.
“While the lawsuit has been dismissed, this matter is far from concluded,” Drummond said. “My office will continue engaging with various state and federal agencies to investigate this egregious misuse of tax dollars.”
In addition to the OIG report, Oklahoma’s handling of GEER funds is expected to be addressed by State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd in the State of Oklahoma Single Audit. The Single Audit is an annual review of all federal funds expended for the fiscal year and generally is submitted between March and July.