Gary Jones, Republican candidate for Oklahoma auditor and inspector, is sharpening
his attacks on appointed incumbent Democrat Steve Burrage as the race
enters its last three weeks. For his part, Burrage, who thus far has the
financial edge in the race, is pounding Jones in television
In an interview Tuesday (October 12) with CapitolBeatOK, Jones
reflected on what he identified as the top three issues in the
contentious race: “Voters want somebody who will actually go to work and
to the job. My opponent is a figurehead. I will set the standard for
work, and for work ethic. The auditor & inspector’s office is years
behind on audits. He’s actively taken himself out of the process.
“Second, voters are looking for someone who can manage resources in a tight budget year.
“Third, voters want someone who will tell the truth. Even Clifton Scott,
the former auditor, concluded I was right in the disagreements I had
over the hospital controversy in Comanche County. Well, if what I said
then was true, then it’s not false as Burrage claims in his recent
Jones continued, “Burrage is trying to tar me for getting behind on
taxes years ago in my small business. In some tough times, I paid my
employees first, and was late on some taxes. Those taxes were late, but
we paid them. Worst of all, he says I was removed from office. I wasn’t
removed. I was beaten in an election where those I’d opposed help fund
“He also characterizes as some kind of crybaby lawsuit the legal actions I brought against Steve Phipps.”
On the latter issue, Jones this week told veteran journalist Mike McCarville,
“Burrage attacks me over a lawsuit we filed against Gene Stipe, his
partner Steve Phipps and others. While I was working to uncover and
expose Stipe, Phipps, the former state auditor along with others,
Burrage’s brother was Stipe’s lawyer. And to top it off Burrage himself
may have been making money on these illegal dealings as the taxpayer’s
funds appear to have been funneled through Steve Burrage’s bank.
"The last person we need as state auditor is someone who will twist,
turn and misrepresent the truth for their own political gain."
Although it remains among the three closest statewide races in what
could be an historic year for Republicans in Oklahoma, Jones has a
41%-35% edge in the latest SoonerPoll, reported Sunday in the Tulsa
Jones told CapitolBeatOK: “Steve Burrage is bragging he plans to buy
this election. My strategy is hitting every courthouse in the state.
While I’m doing this interview, I’m at the Garvin County Courthouse, and
that’s number 50 out of the 77 counties.”
Jones continued, “I
should mention that as I talk to county officials who have had to work
with Burrage, almost to a person, and most of them are Democrats, they
want to rid of this guy. He’s disrespectful to county officials and does
not treat them with honor and integrity.
“He brags about the performance of his office, yet that office is three to four years behind on audits.
“Then we have this situation in Broken Arrow
that has dragged on for two years. That’s a huge problem. That process
has gone through one round after another, up to exit interviews before
he killed the audit.”
Jones continued, saying Burrage “spent $350,000 on remodeling his
office, at a time of tight budgets in state government. He claims he’s
been able to cut his budget, but the cuts in his office spending
actually came from reductions made by the Legislature to keep the budget
balanced. He didn’t voluntarily cut any thing, and wanted $3 million
more from the Legislature.
“The auditor’s office is sending counties bills for things they don’t
owe, and can’t pay. It’s a kind a billing scam because the office hasn’t
performed services for which they’re billing in those cases.”
In the final weeks of the election, Jones says, “I won’t spend as much
money as him, but I won’t have to. We’re going to do some television at
the end. We’re going to reveal this guy for who he really is. We’ll do
it with ‘retail’ and not so much ‘wholesale’ advertising and messages.
“I predict we will be outspent but that people are sick and tired of
politicians like this. Burrage is the last person you would want as
Summing up his case in the contest, Jones said, “I have challenged him
to debates and he’s refused. I’ve said I’d be willing to have a
discussion where I ask five questions and he asks five questions with
nothing off limits. I’d even make that 10 questions.
“Voters should put me in the position because I will actually do the job
with efficiency and hard work. I’ll help us get through the budget
shortfalls and challenges we’re in right now. In the end, I wonder what
good is an auditor who doesn’t get his audits done?”