Oklahoma Department of Health sees string of resignations

Oklahoma Department of Health sees string of resignations

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The chief operating officer at the Oklahoma State Department of Health has resigned amid a string of departures at the agency.

The Oklahoman reports that a spokesman confirms that Deborah Nichols resigned on Tuesday. The resignation adds another vacancy to be filled at the department. Commissioner Terry Cline and Senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain also resigned less than a month ago.

The turnovers follow accusations that the agency's top officials used "accounting tricks" to falsely present a balanced budget since at least 2011.

Gov. Mary Fallin selected Preston Doerflinger to take Cline's place. He says after taking over the department he discovered the agency's practices had created a $30 million budget shortfall.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has requested a state investigative audit of the department, which could lead to criminal charges.