Oklahoma AG appoints special counsel in charter school probe
Posted October 12, 2020 1:49 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2020 1:51 p.m. EDT
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on Monday announced the appointment of a special attorney to review the state's investigative audit of the embattled Epic Charter Schools.
Hunter said in a press release he’s appointed former Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston to the post. Houston also previously served as chief of staff for former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
The appointment of a special counsel follows Hunter’s recusal of himself and his staff from further review of the audit. Hunter said the decision was made because his staff is currently involved in ongoing litigation with Epic over the school’s financial records and serves as counsel to the state's Virtual Charter School Board.
Hunter said he's also appointed Senior Deputy Attorney General Joy Thorp, who heads the office's criminal justice unit, as the chief liaison to work with Houston in reviewing the audit.
Oklahoma State Auditor Cindy Byrd released a scathing audit earlier this month that showed Epic used a “remarkably complex” infrastructure to divert tens of millions of taxpayer dollars into a for-profit business controlled by the school’s two founders and its chief financial officer.