I know a little bit about Oklahoma’s School Land Commission because just before I left active duty in the United States Air Force in 1974, I had to take over a loan my father and grandmother had with the commission on our family farm in Lexington.
In order to complete a piece of business with SLC, I flew back from my duty assignment at the Pentagon, completed all the paperwork required to appear before the commission and request a partial release of five acres of the farm. I know this is a lot of detail and inside baseball but the following is absolutely what I had to do to complete the transaction.
Because there were only three of the five commissioners at that June 1974 meeting, all three would have to vote yes on our application. Only two did: Gov. David Hall and one other statewide elected official; a third who was present chose not to vote.
I lost 2-0 and the board said three members had to vote in the affirmative. After additional wrangling I obtained the third vote and moved on.
What I am telling you is that the recent votes to change investment policy and also enhance a company’s payment as an advisory entity were both illegal and corrupting of the longstanding policies and procedures at the SLC.
This is simply another example of Gov. Kevin Stitt and his lackey Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell violating the law, rules and regulations of another agency. CEO Elliot Chambers has been self-dealing; Stitt and Pinnell know it. Chambers has now been caught by State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and Auditor Cindy Byrd and will, I’m sure, shortly resign claiming “politics” is involved.
The politics was in his hiring. Like Stitt he is a graduate of Oklahoma State, a CPA, but he’s had about a dozen jobs since earning his degree at OSU and a Master’s from New York University.
Yes, he is smart. He also presided over two, perhaps three, bankrupt oil and gas companies, failed to pay a settlement agreement for a debt to the SLC with one, and has an interest in a company doing business with the SLC.
Question: What part of conflict of interest does he not understand?
Answer: Every part, because he models his behavior after his mentor and the crook who hired him – Kevin Stitt.
Soon it will be easier to name the state agencies that Stitt hasn’t corrupted than the ones he has.
Mr. Chambers, save us the crocodile tears about money for school children from your agency. That’s the least of your priorities since becoming the boss at SLC.
Lining your own pockets is No. 1 and pleasing Kevin Stitt is No. 2. End of story. Full stop.
Editor’s Note: Just hours after this essay posted, Elliot Chambers submitted his resignation, effective Aug. 3.