Let's Pod This is the official podcast of grassroots organization Let's Fix This, Inc., where we talk with policymakers, advocates, elected officials, and regular folks from across Oklahoma to explain how our government works and provide context for the pressing issues facing our state.
Where is the budget?
With less than two weeks before sine die, we have yet to see a budget proposal...from anyone! Also, the investigation into the Swadley's scandal deepens and the multicounty grand jury issued policy recommendations but no indictments. Relevant links are below!
Let’s start with the latest on BBQGate. Two important developments came to light this week:
First, The Frontier reported that https://nondoc.com/2022/05/11/pair-of-campaign-websites-now-available-on-state-network/ (Months before seeking bids, a state tourism official spoke of a deal for Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen to ‘make money from day one’)
Also, the House Special Investigative Committee that is looking into this scandal convened their first hearing and heard testimony from LOFT director Mike Jackson. During that meeting, it was disclosed that 74% of the funds - https://www.oklahoman.com/story/news/2022/05/13/swadleys-foggy-bottom-kitchen-investigation-okahoma-tourism-recreation-department-taxpayer-costs/9702143002/ ($12.4M of the $16.7M given to Swadleys - was misspent.) Director Jackson said this happened because the Tourism Department lacked the proper checks and balances. Some examples:
Travel was reimbursed multiple times. Jackson noted that the mileage reimbursement for one month in 2020 could have paid for someone to drive around the globe four times.
one of the 59 subcontractors hired by Swadley's to make park and dining improvements charged a $20,000 fee on $53,000 worth of work. In addition, Swadley's then charged project-specific consulting and management fees, Jackson said.
a cheese melter that Swadley's expensed for $11,600. When LOFT looked into it, the office found the same manufacturer charged no more than $5,500 for that item, Jackson said.
https://nondoc.com/2022/05/12/oklahoma-county-grand-jury-report/ (The multicounty grand jury filed their report on Thursday )and included within it were a number of findings as well as recommendations. The report says, among other things, that Governor Stitt put improper political pressure on his appointees to the Pardon and Parole board.
The grand jury is convened by the District Attorney for the purpose of reviewing evidence and, when justified, issuing indictments. So...why is this grand jury issuing policy recommendations? (And is that even legal?)
https://nondoc.com/2022/05/11/pair-of-campaign-websites-now-available-on-state-network/ (Initially blocked, pair of campaign websites ‘now available’ on state network) (NonDoc)
https://nondoc.com/2022/05/12/the-weird-political-misadventure-of-two-tag-agent-bills/ (The ‘weird political misadventure’ of two tag agent bills) (NonDoc)
They're coming for the courts next
Andy, Bailey, and Scott discuss a legislative proposal, http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx?Bill=SJR%2043 (SJR43), that is an overt attempt to politicize Oklahoma's judicial system by replacing most judges with Governor-appointed cronies, make the rest of the judicial elections partisan, and create an entirely separate class of lawyers that are licensed by the legislature, not the Oklahoma Bar Association. (For broader context on these assaults on the judiciary beyond Oklahoma, https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/legislative-assaults-state-courts-december-2021-update (read this).)
Swadley's Soggy Bottom
Andy and Scott discuss https://nondoc.com/2022/04/29/tourism-director-jerry-winchester-resigns-state-files-lawsuit-against-swadleys/ (the latest news) in the BBQ-flavored [alleged] corruption scandal, yet another bill that promises to be a "total ban" on abortion in Oklahoma, and who got tossed from the ballot during candidacy challenges this week.
Foggy Bottom Boondoggle
Scott and Andy discuss the recent rash of allegations of corruption among state legislators, gubernatorial appointees, and other public officials, as well as the recently-launched Clean Up Oklahoma campaign that has been tracking and highlighting these reports. A few pertinent links:
https://cleanupoklahoma.org/ (Clean Up Oklahoma) [https://cleanupoklahoma.org/download/6403/ (timeline of corruption)]
https://nondoc.com/2022/04/20/brent-swadley-on-following-the-rules/ (Brent Swadley in 2018: "Wouldn't be where I am today if I followed the rules.") (NonDoc)
https://tulsaworld.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/odonnell-indictment-could-have-far-reaching-consequences/article_2a018eda-62a7-11ec-b999-e7b004464144.html?utm_medium=socialandutm_source=twitterandutm_campaign=user-share (O'Donnell indictment could have far-reaching consequences) (Tulsa World)
Where have all the candidates gone?
Candidate filing winds down and there are roughly 200 fewer candidates than there were in the 2018 gubernatorial cycle. Andy and Bailey sort through the filings and discuss what impact this may have on voters' experience at the ballot box and Oklahoma's representation for the next cycle.
Inside baseball (and why some players are leaving the game)
Sometimes bills die for very obvious reasons; other times they go away quietly, often so quietly that no one knows why. We discuss https://nondoc.com/2022/04/07/mike-hunter-convinced-charles-mccall-to-stop-terry-odonnell-bill/?utm_source=NonDoc+Newsletterandutm_campaign=b765a02173-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_23_10_11_COPY_01andutm_medium=emailandutm_term=0_6888206bfb-b765a02173-142195445 (new reports) about how former Attorney General Mike Hunter killed a bill that would have impacted (and increased scrutiny of) his ability to hire private law firms to assist with state lawsuits. We also chat about the surprising number of legislators who are not seeking re-election this year, a new primary challenger for the Governor, and SCOTUS' newly-seated Justice, Kentanji Brown Jackson.
Let’s Pod This Wild World!
Always witty, factual, and minimal opinions (but still logical and well-thought out, so don’t get your feathers too ruffled). I enjoy the bipartisan local civics updates, and the special guests as well! #MooresHonor best podcast available for the regular-ish informed citizen folks out there just living their best life possible in Oklahoma.
Informative and fun!
Educational and F. U. N.
This podcast feels like sitting in on a group of well-informed friends just casually talking about super important topics. I learn so much, and it’s very listenable.