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Chicken-Fried News: Procrastination pain

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Imagine you are the sheriff and the bill for inmate health care lands on your desk. You notice a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach because the balance is large — more than double the cost of your own home. Thankfully, you have time before the payment comes due, but you’re busy, so you deal with it later, even though funds are readily available.

A little procrastination never hurt anybody, right?

There is a lot of harm when you are an elected official who is responsible for managing taxpayer dollars, according to an investigative audit report into the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office issued by the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office.

The audit, released Oct. 18, found Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel had the funds to pay Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. when payment was due. The audit suggests Whetsel chose not to pay for months — and then those invoices became the county’s debt. In a county Budget Board meeting, the sheriff told fellow county leadership that the county was short on funds to pay inmate medical bills. As of June 30, 2015, $3.05 million was owed to Armor, according to the audit.

As Inspector Gadget sagely put it, “Wowsers!”

The 32-page audit report details other findings regarding questionable decisions in the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office under Whetsel’s leadership.

The audit was released 21 days before the Nov. 8 general election. State Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, challenges Whetsel, a Choctaw Democrat, for the seat.

Whetsel responded to the audit by pointing out there were no allegations of misappropriated money. He also pledged to work to improve every area of operations, The Associated Press reported.

Print Headline: Procrastination pain

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