The Norman Transcript

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October 25, 2012

County won’t budge, IRS document being withheld

(Continued)

NORMAN —

However, a provision in the Oklahoma Open Records Act states that “access to records … shall not be denied because a public body or public official is using or has taken possession of such records for investigatory purposes …”

Dillingham countered that the Open Records Act provision is superceded by the statutory law she cited.

Longtime state auditor Clifton Scott was diligent in making sure materials in audits were not kept private in the interim.

County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan, chairman of the Cleveland County Justice Authority, said all questions regarding the issue need to go to Dillingham and that he will not talk to The Transcript.

In 2008, Cleveland County voters approved a $52 million bond issue, to be paid from a quarter-cent sales tax during the next 20 years.

Residents voiced concerns when the bid for the new jail came in at $24 million. Trustees said that with other related expenses, such as site work, total cost of the project will be about $46 million, which still leaves $6 million in extra money.

The Transcript has requested, through the state Open Records Act, that the county release the IRS documents to the public.

“At this time, the county declines to produce the IDRs,” Dillingham said in an Oct. 19 letter to The Transcript.

Cleveland County commissioners act as trustees of the Cleveland County Justice Authority when they conduct business pertaining to the jail bond issue. Rusty Sullivan is chairman of the authority, and commissioner Rod Cleveland is a trustee member. The third member is George Skinner, who has not run for re-election.

Sullivan and Cleveland, both elected officials, have referred questions to Dillingham, who works for District Attorney Greg Mashburn, also an elected official.

After the IRS sent the documents to the justice authority, trustees hired Washington, D.C., lawyer Brad Waterman to prepare a response from the county. Waterman is an experienced tax attorney.

Dillingham said the response by Waterman would not be public record but would be considered attorney/client-privileged information.

 

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