The Oklahoman is reporting that the state auditor and inspector’s office is preparing an investigation into an Oklahoma City police captain’s whistle-blower complaint that a city employee misappropriated funds for personal gain and his superiors sought to keep it quiet, but top city officials flatly deny any corruption or cover-up took place.
At a meeting earlier this month, the Oklahoma City Council voted unanimously with no discussion to request a state audit of “certain city contracts regarding implementation of various public safety systems.” Mayor Mick Cornett formally requested the audit in a letter received Oct. 4 by State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.
City Manager Jim Couch and Assistant City Manager M.T. Berry acknowledged that a complaint filed by a city employee was related to the audit request, but said they couldn’t comment on the complaint or the investigation because it was a personnel matter. City attorneys cited state laws protecting the release of information “part of a confidential personnel investigation” in refusing to release the complaint.
The Oklahoman later obtained the complaint through a source who provided it on condition of anonymity. In it, Oklahoma City police Capt. Bradd Brown alleges a city employee misappropriated funds related to a project to create a new public safety communications and records system, and efforts to “hide or minimize information given to” the city council about the problems reached as high as Couch’s office.
Brown declined to comment when reached by telephone.
Couch had a simple answer, “No,” when asked whether there was any financial impropriety related to the project or whether anyone participated in an effort to hide information from the city council.
“Why would I do that? What purpose would there be for me to do that?” Couch asked rhetorically and with exasperation in his voice. He went on to note instances when his staff had to present an unforeseen problem that required more city spending, and a full report was made to the council for their consideration and approval.