Bill Price prosecuted most of the County Commissioners. But Future Republican Governor, Frank Keating along with his law partner, Gary Richardson, led a diligent effort to clean up the massive kickback scandal in the bidding process for county road & capital improvement contracting bids. When Republican President, Ronald Reagan started appointing conservative federal prosecutors and judges, The Democrats who ran Oklahoma began to sweat. Eventually, the IRS notified the Justice Department about fake billing invoices to county commissioners. Bill Price was one such federal prosecutor. After he sent scores of county commissioners to jail, he ran for governor. Sadly he lost, due to more corruption in David Walter’s campaign funding.
Harry Holloway, of the Oklahoma Historical Society said;
In 1980 a huge scandal erupted stemming from the conviction of some 220 county commissioners and suppliers. Their convictions rose from involvement in a scheme of kickbacks paid on orders for county road-building supplies such as timber and gravel. The scandal reached all across the state in roughly sixty counties large and small, urban and rural. It had been going on for as long as anyone could remember. Again, federal officials rooted out the corruption.
The Tulsa World said;
1981 Undoubtedly the year’s biggest story also was a big one nationally: The far-reaching county commissioner scandal, essentially a kickback scheme among suppliers and commissioners, began to unfold. It was described as the largest case of public corruption in the nation. All but a handful of the state’s 77 counties were involved. Commissioners resigned in 69 counties; 13 counties lost all their commissioners in the wake of the scandal, unearthed by federal investigators. Over the next year, 240 commissioners, former commissioners and material suppliers would be implicated before the scandal drew to a close.
Old-time politics in the Southern tradition reared its head in Oklahoma big time when dozens of “good ol’ boy” county commissioners were convicted of taking kickbacks. The scandal played out in the early 1980s, serving as a textbook example for political scientists of what power and money can do to common folks elected to public office where they have access to taxpayers’ money. “The funny thing is that the corruption was generally accepted,” Gaddie said. It was common practice that commissioners received a 10 percent kickback from key vendors, but when the ante was upped to 15 percent or more, it was discovered.