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January 11, 2013

Fallin, others sued over nonprofit money

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma lawmaker is suing Gov. Mary Fallin and other state officials demanding that they recover more than $2 million in state tax dollars given to a private, nonprofit livestock show in what the lawmaker says was an “informal” deal that was never approved by the legislature.

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, filed the lawsuit more than two months after he hand-delivered letters to Fallin and the other officials demanding that they recover the money. Reynolds’ attorney, Andrew Karim, said Thursday that Reynolds filed the lawsuit after he received no response to his letter.

The letters were delivered on Oct. 31 to the offices of 15 elected and appointed state officials, including legislative leaders and statewide officials, who were involved in the appropriation and distribution of money to the expo.

The lawsuit is the second Reynolds has filed challenging the Youth Expo money and is part of an effort by Reynolds and other conservative lawmakers to challenge what they claim is the inappropriate allocation of state dollars to private entities. Reynolds and Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, filed a separate lawsuit in September that alleges allocations to the Youth Expo are unconstitutional.

The most recent lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court on Tuesday, demands that the officials recover $2 million allocated to the Youth Expo in August. It also demands recovery of $167,750 in state tax dollars that was allocated to the organization in 2010 and a $175,000 allocation in 2011.

The demand letters and lawsuit were filed under so-called “qui tam” guidelines that allow private citizens to initiate legal action against a person or company that allegedly violates the law in connection with a government contract.

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