County Clerk Promotes $25M COVID Grant to Nonprofits from Campaign Donors

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) – Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten (pictured) placed an article at Monday’s county commissioners meeting asking for $25 million in COVID relief funds be awarded to a non-profit organization founded by contributors to his race for the title of Treasurer of the State.

If the detectives pass the item, the relief funds will go to the Ground Zero Emergency Training Center Foundation, founded by Oklahoma football legend Barry Switzer and his wife Becky (Rebecca).

Becky Switzer is listed as an officer on the organization’s most recent 2019 Form 990, but receives no compensation for the role. The non-profit organization’s assets are reported to be over $1 million in the 2019 report.

First reported by News9the Swiss have made the maximum allowable contributions to the Hooten campaign for the State Treasurer, which raises questions about Hooten’s purpose in preparing the agenda item.

Agenda item 29 is a request for $25 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds awarded to the county for county-level COVID pandemic relief and recovery. The organization wants to build a more than 100 hectare facility to train the rescue dogs and their handlers.

The center helps train and provide search and rescue dogs for over 40 first responders.

Agenda item 29 reads as follows:

Discussion and possible action regarding funding of up to US$25 million for the Ground Zero Emergency Training Center for the purpose of acquiring land and building and maintaining a training center to raise and train specialized dogs for disaster recovery. Funding would come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fund 1415. This item was approved by the Oklahoma County Budget Board on July 15, 2021. This post was requested by David B. Hooten, Oklahoma County Clerk.

Commissioners surprised

The Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners, 11/18/21. LR: Kevin Calvey, Dist 3; Brian Maughan, Dist 2; Carrie Blumert, District 1. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

The article appeared to surprise all three commissioners when News9 inquired about the article on Friday afternoon. All three were previously unaware of the article until reporter Storme Jones asked about it.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Maughan said he would vote against the article “because we have no evidence that it’s an article that we can use the money for.”

Commissioner Carrie Blumert praised the organization but flatly said it was “not something we should be spending county ARPA funds on.”

And Commissioner Kevin Calvey called the idea “premature” because the county is still developing a grant application process to distribute ARPA funds.

Agenda

BoCC Agenda for May 2nd, 2022


Last updated on May 1st, 2022 9:47 am by Brett Dickerson – Editor

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