OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter reversed course on Monday and released a 2011 state audit into the cleanup of the Tar Creek Superfund site in northeastern Oklahoma that suggested the job cost taxpayers five times as much as it should have.
Hunter, who was sued late last year by a Washington-based public watchdog group the Campaign for Accountability, said the issue had become too politicized and released two separate audits into the matter.
“The matter which was the subject of the audits was reviewed by prosecutors in the attorney general’s office, the EPA under President Barack Obama and re-examined and scrutinized by newly hired, experienced criminal prosecutors in my office,” Hunter said in a statement. “No one in the review chain described above found prosecutable evidence of criminal activity.”
Hunter, a Republican appointed to the post after his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, was appointed by President Trump to head the EPA, is up for election in November. Oklahoma’s three-day filing period for elected office begins on Wednesday. Both Hunter and Pruitt declined to release the audits since no criminal charges were ever filed in the case.
The 2011 audit by State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones’ office into the Tar Creek cleanup found that the original bid for the project was $600,000. But the project was re-bid and ultimately awarded to a different company for more than $3 million.
“Although our investigation did not provide direct evidence for a conspiracy against the state, it did provide considerable circumstantial evidence that a conspiracy may have existed,” auditors wrote in their report.
The Campaign for Accountability’s Executive Director Daniel Stevens said his organization is pleased Hunter released the audit, but added: “It shouldn’t take months of litigation to force the state’s top law enforcement officer to release public documents.”