On the latest Capitol Report on News9, the CBS News affiliate in Oklahoma City, journalist Patrick B. McGuigan focused on the burgeoning scandal at the state Department of Health. Holding a front page story from The Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper, he has characterized as “startling” allegations that agency funds intended to help people living with HIV/AIDS were diverted to other uses.
McGuigan observed it was “hard to imagine more vulnerable” recipients of public assistance than the individuals the federal program, operating through the state agency, is intended to help. He reflected tjat the extent of the fund diversion may ultimately be deemed malfeasance, not merely bad performance, depending on the results of audits and investigations now under way. State taxpayers, through the agency, might be required to repay the U.S. government or face penalties for the misuse of funds.
The CapitolBeatOK editor said there are indications former Health Commissioner Terry Cline’s administrative skills were a concern as long as a decade ago, during his tenure at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Turning to capital city news in the segment with reporter Alex Cameron, also broadcast by Tulsa’s Newson6, McGuigan said state Sen. David Holt has overwhelming advantages as the filing deadline (in early December) for the Oklahoma City mayor’s job nears. The withdrawal of County Commissioner Brian Maughan leaves Holt – with major endorsements and more than 1,300 announced supporters – in a dominant position.