- Associated Press - Thursday, November 30, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Three of Gov. Mary Fallin’s top executives were subpoenaed on Thursday to testify and produce documents for a special state House committee looking into allegations of financial mismanagement at the Department of Health

The chairman of the House Special Investigation Committee issued subpoenas to Fallin’s Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, the acting director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Denise Northrup, and Fallin’s Chief of Staff Chris Benge.

The subpoenas seek answers to dozens of questions about financial problems at the Department of Health as well as records in the offices of the governor and OMES relating to the health department and other executive agencies.

Several top officials at the Department of Health have resigned, including Commissioner Terry Cline, and Attorney General Mike Hunter has requested a state investigative audit that could lead to criminal charges. Doerflinger, who Fallin appointed as interim commissioner to oversee the agency, has said the financial mismanagement stretches back more than five years and that the agency needed an infusion of $30 million this year just to make payroll.

State Rep. Josh Cockcroft, the chairman of the panel who signed the subpoenas, said his committee’s investigation is not a criminal one, but more of a fact finding mission.

“Our constituents want answers, and we intend to find out how and why this happened,” Cockcroft, R-Wanette, said in a statement.

The subpoenas direct all three executives to appear before the committee later this month.

OMES spokeswoman Shelley Zumwalt said neither Doerflinger nor Northrup had an immediate response to the subpoenas.

Fallin said in a statement her office is still reviewing the subpoena issued to Benge and making sure that providing the information to the House committee won’t interfere with ongoing investigations by the attorney general and state auditor.

The subpoenas come amid heightened tensions between the governor and Speaker of the House Charles McCall over the state’s ongoing budget problems.

Earlier Thursday, The Oklahoman reported the chief operating officer at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Deborah Nichols, resigned this week, becoming the latest executive to step down from the agency.


Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy


Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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