Final rounds: Jones ratchets up criticisms of Auditor & Inspector Burrage
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Published: 12-Oct-2010

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 12-Oct-2010

Gary Jones, Republican candidate for Oklahoma auditor and inspector, is sharpening his attacks on appointed incumbent Democrat Steve Burrage as the race enters its last three weeks. For his part, Burrage, who thus far has the financial edge in the race, is pounding Jones in television advertisements.

In an interview today (Tuesday, October 12) with CapitolBeatOK, Jones reflected on what he identified as the top three issues in the contentious race: “Voters want somebody who will actually go to work and to the job. My opponent is a figurehead. I will set the standard for work, and for work ethic. The auditor & inspector’s office is years behind on audits. He’s actively taken himself out of the process.

“Second, voters are looking for someone who can manage resources in a tight budget year.

“Third, voters want someone who will tell the truth. Even Clifton Scott, the former auditor, concluded I was right in the disagreements I had over the hospital controversy in Comanche County. Well, if what I said then was true, then it’s not false as Burrage claims in his recent television advertisements.”

Jones continued, “Burrage is trying to tar me for getting behind on taxes years ago in my small business. In some tough times, I paid my employees first, and was late on some taxes. Those taxes were late, but we paid them. Worst of all, he says I was removed from office. I wasn’t removed. I was beaten in an election where those I’d opposed help fund my opposition.”

“He also characterizes as some kind of crybaby lawsuit the legal actions I brought against Steve Phipps.”

On the latter issue, Jones this week told veteran journalist Mike McCarville, “Burrage attacks me over a lawsuit we filed against Gene Stipe, his partner Steve Phipps and others. While I was working to uncover and expose Stipe, Phipps, the former state auditor along with others, Burrage’s brother was Stipe’s lawyer. And to top it off Burrage himself may have been making money on these illegal dealings as the taxpayer’s funds appear to have been funneled through Steve Burrage's bank.

"The last person we need as state auditor is someone who will twist, turn and misrepresent the truth for their own political gain."

Although it remains among the three closest statewide races in what could be an historic year for Republicans in Oklahoma, Jones has a 41%-35% edge in the latest SoonerPoll, reported Sunday in the Tulsa World.

Jones told CapitolBeatOK: “Steve Burrage is bragging he plans to buy this election. My strategy is hitting every courthouse in the state. While I’m doing this interview, I’m at the Garvin County Courthouse, and that’s number 50 out of the 77 counties.”

Jones continued, “I should mention that as I talk to county officials who have had to work with Burrage, almost to a person, and most of them are Democrats, they want to rid of this guy. He’s disrespectful to county officials and does not treat them with honor and integrity.

“He brags about the performance of his office, yet that office is three to four years behind on audits.

“Then we have this situation in Broken Arrow that has dragged on for two years. That’s a huge problem. That process has gone through one round after another, up to exit interviews before he killed the audit.”

Jones continued, saying Burrage “spent $350,000 on remodeling his office, at a time of tight budgets in state government. He claims he’s been able to cut his budget, but the cuts in his office spending actually came from reductions made by the Legislature to keep the budget balanced. He didn’t voluntarily cut any thing, and wanted $3 million more from the Legislature.

“The auditor’s office is sending counties bills for things they don’t owe, and can’t pay. It’s a kind a billing scam because the office hasn’t performed services for which they’re billing in those cases.”

In the final weeks of the election, Jones says, “I won’t spend as much money as him, but I won’t have to. We’re going to do some television at the end. We’re going to reveal this guy for who he really is. We’ll do it with ‘retail’ and not so much ‘wholesale’ advertising and messages.

“I predict we will be outspent but that people are sick and tired of politicians like this. Burrage is the last person you would want as state Auditor.”

Summing up his case in the contest, Jones said, “I have challenged him to debates and he’s refused. I’ve said I’d be willing to have a discussion where I ask five questions and he asks five questions with nothing off limits. I’d even make that 10 questions.

“Voters should put me in the position because I will actually do the job with efficiency and hard work. I’ll help us get through the budget shortfalls and challenges we’re in right now. In the end, I wonder what good is an auditor who doesn’t get his audits done?”

 

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