State Auditor & Inspector, Gary Jones, has finally made public his strong disagreement with the former Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt. The fallout of this nasty feud could either thwart Jones' campaign for governor, or end Pruitt's leadership of the EPA. Make no mistake; the battle will get even nastier, because the integrity of the two men is now at stake. NewsOk has released the most recent personal attacks.
The federal govt. has spent massive sums to deal with the 'superfund' site in Picher, OK. It is the location of a led mine known as 'Tar Creek'. The environmental disaster of several decades ago has resulted in the complete buy-out of every property in the community. But the buy-out was handled by a trust set up by Oklahoma state govt. The Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust(LICRAT) was set up in 2004 by the Oklahoma legislature. Within 10 years the waste and alleged corruption was so great that the federal govt. demanded an investigation. State Auditor, Gary Jones was a part of that investigation and his final report was sent to the Attorney General, Scott Pruitt. Pruitt showed that report to the attorney for LICRAT (the would-be defendant) and then sealed the Auditor's report without ever filing a single charge in the case.
Some are suggesting that defendants in the case were also connected to significant contributors to AG Scott Pruitt's campaign for re-election to a 2nd term, in 2014.
Pruitt & his staff are launching a full-scale attack on Gary Jones, saying that the investigation was done recklessly and sloppy. Pruitt then attempted in 2016, to thwart state law by blocking the Auditor's office from performing a routine & scheduled audit of the AG's office. Eventually Pruitt relented and the audit was completed.
This issue will become a national news story, given that Pruitt is leading the Trump Administration's environmental oversight. Some will immediately attack Pruitt as a vicarious target of their anti-Trump efforts. Others will reflexively attack Jones and accuse him of undermining Trump. Neither reaction is credible or helpful in finding the truth. the fact remains that Jones is proud of the work he did on this investigation and he's not afraid of the scrutiny when the full report is made public.