Lawsuit over junior livestock expo funds amended
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
10/03/12 at 6:34 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Two legislators suing the state Agriculture Department over $2 million in state funding for a privately run junior livestock show have changed their legal demands after learning that the money has already been spent.
In their original suit, filed Sept. 24, Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, asked for an injunction to block the money from going to the Oklahoma Youth Expo. The same day that the suit was filed, state Agriculture Commissioner Jim Reese said the money had gone to the expo weeks earlier.
In an Oklahoma County District Court filing Monday, the lawmakers acknowledged that the money was already spent. The amended petition uses similar legal arguments as the first case, but asks District Judge Barbara Swinton to find that the spending was without legal authority and that the state budget agreement between Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders is unlawful, unenforceable, unconstitutional and void.
The revised suit also asks for "a full accounting" of money for the expo.
The state budget bill passed by lawmakers last year include a $2 million increase in funding for the Agriculture Department but did not specify how the money would be spent.
Fallin and legislative leaders have since acknowledged that they had agreed in closed-door talks near the end of the legislative session that the money was for the expo, which is the world's largest junior livestock show.
Although the budget talks were conducted privately, there was no secret among legislators what the money was for, legislative leaders have said.
Reynolds has argued that the funding wasn't legal because it wasn't specifically authorized, and the funding amounted to an unconstitutional donation of state money to a private event.
Reese, who serves as a member of the youth expo's board of directors, has said that the spending is legally authorized within the department's responsibility to promote agriculture and is comparable to similar events in other states that are operated by the Agriculture Department.
Original Print Headline: Suit over youth expo funds amended
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308