Politics, Politics, Reynolds, Reynolds, Reynolds

Note: This article was written by ROBIN READER (612) and was originally published on her website Broken Arrow Forum on August 27, 2010, and reappears here on this blog with her permission.

__________

Remember when this was about Broken Arrow Schools?

What a crazy news day. But don’t worry, 612 has all the answers.

Not really, but here’s my attempt at making sense of some of the puzzling, seemingly conflicting information that’s been thrown at us today. And judging from my past success at convincing myself of stuff, it’s gonna be good!

We know:

  • Someone who has access to audit information has been leaking information to Rep. Mike Reynolds. This person is likely in State Auditor Burrage’s office.
  • Rep. Mike Reynolds is very opposed to the board members and the District’s counsel having access to the audit for two weeks before it’s released to the public. He said his concern was that board members would have input into changing the audit.
  • Rep. Mike Reynolds publicly accused State Auditor Burrage of intentionally leaving critical information out of the audit report. He listed several specific items (straight from Sisney), which, if left out of the final audit, supposedly will prove Reynolds’ claim that Burrage “watered down” the audit.
  • BA board members and attorneys have met with the representatives of the state auditor’s office. They have had an opportunity to discuss the findings with the auditor’s staff before the audit is released to the public. It’s possible that they have provided or will provide information that conflicts with the audit’s findings.
  • The audit is due to be released to the public on Thursday, September 2 – six days from now. Work papers will not be released at the same time; this decision was
    announced today (8/27). Why would work papers not be made public when the audit is? Could it be that some of the documents the auditor based her conclusions on
    have come under suspicion regarding their authenticity? Hm…who provided these documents?

Okay. So today we get an “early draft” of the audit results that amazingly, lists Sisney’s exact laundry list of allegations, and also amazingly, doesn’t show that anything besides Sisney’s accusations was found.

It’s possible that it’s made up. It’s also possible that it’s really a document from the auditor’s office; probably an early outline of the allegations they were tasked with investigating.

Either way, someone wants it to look like Burrage’s office uncovered evidence of all these allegations, so they can make it look like he covered them up again in the final audit report.

So, what is in the real audit? And why is Rep. Mike Reynolds so agitated about the 14 days that board members and attorneys have to, in his words, get a “head start”?

Does the real audit reflect the same findings as the “early audit”? If so, it would appear that Mr. Burrage’s staff pretty much just went with the “evidence” and suspicions provided by Sisney supporters. It would appear that they didn’t consider the considerable doubt placed on Sisney’s accusations by the Counterclaim or Sisney’s deposition. It would appear they didn’t apply any reasoning to the plausibility of the allegations. It would appear that they left out an entire side of the story (much like the reporting on this topic has done).

In support of the appearance of one-sided “findings”, Reynolds appears to be afraid that during those 14 days, the board members might get a chance to, as he put it, “have some input”. Hm, are we to infer that board members have not had any input up till now? If that’s the case, the integrity of the audit is completely blown. How is it justifiable to fail to consider all involved parties in an investigation – especially those at the center of the accusations? According to Mike and Narissa Rampey’s statement made today, no one from the State Auditor’s office ever contacted them! Is it possible that NONE of the defendants named by Jim Sisney in his defamation case were even interviewed? If so, this is dereliction of duty and an outrageous breach of our trust. In light of the Rampeys’ statement, Burrage will need to show due diligence in considering all evidence and all involved parties in order to show that his audit has any credibility.

The question now is – how much does Burrage know about the process and methods used by his staff? How involved was he with the audit? We know that someone close to his office, probably a staff member, has been leaking information to Reynolds. (Not just the “early audit”, but confidential emails that have been quoted in CapitolBeatOK articles). This person appears to have a motive to help Reynolds discredit Burrage. Reynolds’ motive to discredit Burrage is obvious, and his actions show his willingness.

So did this same person, who has leaked information to Reynolds, mislead Burrage into believing the corruption story, and keep him in the dark about what evidence was considered and who was asked for their perspective? Very possible. Clearly Burrage depends on his staff to do the investigating and documenting; he does not handle everything personally.

Or did Burrage himself decide in this election year to use Broken Arrow as a showcase of his ability to ferret out corruption? Was he maybe a little to eager to assume early on that Sisney’s claims were true, and did he then consider only evidence and witnesses who supported that foregone conclusion? “I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with facts.”

No matter what, Burrage is caught in an uncomfortable spot.

If the audit reports the same findings as the “early audit”, it will be clear that his audit is flawed, biased, and improperly done. If this is the case, he probably already knows how
inaccurate it is, based on information provided by the board members and other parties in Sisney’s defamation case. Whether Burrage himself knew of the leaks or compromised
methods is irrelevant – it’s his responsibility to make sure it’s accurate and complete. If Burrage and his staff ignored requests from the Rampeys, board members, and other staff to consider their evidence, while allowing the evidence of the Sisney supporter group that met with the auditor in OKC, it will definitely come out. And it will not look good for Burrage.

If the audit does NOT contain the same findings as the leaked or possibly made up “early audit”, he has to admit that Reynolds was right in saying that Burrage eliminated critical
information from the audit. And Burrage will have to explain the discrepancies between the leaked “early audit” and the real audit. Why were the unsupported claims in there in the first place?

Ouch.

A few more things we know, that figure into the picture:

Rep. Mike Reynolds has publicly attempted to make BAPS look as bad as possible on several occasions:

* he issued press releases and held press conferences that appear to confirm the corruption claims made by Jim Sisney, but that in fact are not based on any new or
verifiable information

* he has issued press releases based on documents that were provided to him illegally, by Jim Sisney, without an Open Records request.

* he issued a press release that announced BAPS had made illegal sick payments, when in fact those payment were never illegal, and the “news” was of no relevance
because the payments had been stopped 5 years before.

Gary Jones, State Auditor Burrage’s opponent in the election, made a campaign contribution in 2008 to Rep. Mike Reynolds.

Gary Richardson, Jim Sisney’s attorney, made a campaign contribution in August 2010 to Gary Jones.

Rep. Mike Ritze spoke on Sisney’s behalf at a BA board meeting, even though supposedly they had just met and Ritze didn’t know the situation

Rep. Mike Ritze circulated a petition to oust the board members, even though no evidence was provided of any wrongdoing; he also illegally notarized his own signature

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