Friday, August 6, 2010

Jones Criticizes Burrage Over Watkins 'Transfer'

By Jerry Bohnen/NewsRadio 1000 KTOK ~ The Republican candidate for State Auditor is raising the question of whether State Auditor Steve Burrage was intent on creating a 'ghost employee' by transferring his spokeswoman Terri Watkins to the State School Land Commission months ago and still keeping her on his payroll.

Gary Jones was responding to a McCarville Report Online story this week which revealed how Watkins had been transferred to be the first Communications Director at the School Land Commission but until the first of July was still paid by the Auditor's department.

"It doesn't pass the smell test and the last agency that should be doing this is the State Auditor," said Jones in an interview with KTOK. "If the individual is laid off and they went to work for another agency, they should be paid by that other agency, not the Auditor's office."

Jones also suggested what Auditor Steve Burrage did with Watkins is similar to the job creation efforts of some legislators who are under investigation by Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

"Stop and think about this. You look at the Medical Examiner's office right now and there's an ongoing investigation about somebody using their influence to possibly create a job for one individual," said Jones. "Seems to me that this falls into that same type of category, that somebody's using their influence to make sure that one individual might obtain a job at another agency."

Jones said the Auditor should not be "involved in cutting deals" and there should be an open and transparent government.

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