Investigation sought against Oklahoma tourism agency - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Investigation sought against Oklahoma tourism agency

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An organization representing state employees is asking Oklahoma’s attorney general to investigate the Tourism and Recreation Department over allegations that it broke laws regulating employment practices, taxpayer funds and public records.

The Oklahoma Public Employees Association sent a written request for the investigation to the state attorney general, Oklahoma County district attorney and House Special Investigation Committee, The Oklahoman reported.

“Oklahomans deserve to know if the agency disregarded merit protection commission and district court orders pertaining to the treatment of tourism employees,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “OPEA also has concerns about agency open records violations, the handling of a state auditor and inspector’s report and a federal Department of Labor investigation.”

Former department auditor Andrew Ranson alleged in June that he was forced out after finding possible labor violations. He said that he told the Tourism Commission that he found numerous violations of state and federal laws, and violations of the agency’s policies.

“Most recently, I discovered that several workers at one of our properties were being illegally expected to remain at or near their workstations during their meal periods without being paid,” Ranson said in the June meeting.

Ranson said that every audit but one during his time at the department found major issues.

Commission Chairman Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb said he welcomes the association’s investigation.

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