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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 11, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Friday, Aug. 11, 2023.

FBI Investigation Into Walters-Run Program

A program managed by now-State Superintendent Ryan Walters is being looked into by the FBI, the Oklahoman newspaper reports.

After a scathing state audit in June that outlined Walters’ role in the misspending of $1.7 million of federal COVID relief funds, unnamed law enforcement sources told the Oklahoman Thursday the FBI is now investigating the case.

Before becoming superintendent, then-education secretary Walters was the executive director of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma and oversaw the Bridge the Gap program — which was supposed to get federal COVID relief dollars to parents for education resources. But, with blanket approval from Walters, funds were also spent on things like power tools, TVs and Christmas trees. The federal government has already called for the state to return $650,000 of those misspent funds.

Walters’ office says it isn’t aware of an investigation, and the FBI would also not confirm it. Attorney General Gentner Drummond didn’t confirm it either, though earlier this year, he said he would continue engaging with federal agencies investigating “state actors” for what he called “egregious misuse of tax dollars.”

Cherokee Nation Makes Changes To Cabinet

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner are making some changes to their cabinet.

The new Cherokee Nation cabinet nominees include four men and four women and it will have some new and some familiar faces.

The biggest change will be to the Cherokee Nation's attorney general position. Sara Hill, who navigated the tribal nation through the McGirt decision and balanced the needs of the nation's criminal justice system with sovereignty is stepping down. Hoskin Jr. nominated Chad Harsha to replace her. Hill will still be retained as outside counsel for the nation.

Tina Glory Jordan, the tribal nation's secretary of state, is being nominated to a supreme court position. Glory Jordan helped the tribal nation through the pandemic and worked with federal agencies to secure relief money.

Hoskin Jr. and Warner won a landslide re-election victory in June.

Gamefowl Commission Member Charged With Illegal Cockfighting

Several people, including a member of the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission, are facing criminal charges relating to illegal cockfighting.

Chance Campo is a district director for the Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission. He was charged with a felony and misdemeanor offense for organizing and watching a cockfight.

He was arrested alongside several others for betting, training and handling fighting roosters near a barn in South-Central Oklahoma.

Court records say about 200 people were attending a cockfight in Carter County.

One man was arrested for carrying a rooster with blades attached to its legs. Police also noted several dead roosters around the barn and trailers filled with them in cages.

The Oklahoma Gamefowl Commission supported a bill this year that would have reduced the punishment for cockfighting but even though it passed in the House, it never made it to the Senate for a vote.

Oklahomans voted to outlaw cockfighting and make it a felony in 2002.

Grasshoppers In Oklahoma

Oklahomans on social media are making a big deal about how many grasshoppers they’re seeing this summer. But there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on with the insects.

One Oklahoman posted a picture on Reddit of a swarm of grasshoppers at the front door of Miami Oklahoma’s Regional Chamber of Commerce building Sunday. Some people called this a biblical plague, while others in the comments were grateful for the free chicken feed.

This is actually a common occurrence around this time of year in Oklahoma and the Department of Wildlife Conservation says grasshoppers are a primary food source for the state bird, scissor tail fly catchers.

And it’s not as bad as it was last year according to Micah Anderson, a farmer in Piedmont.

"They really thrive in that hot, dry weather. And so last year and out of my garden I was irrigating it. So my plants were still doing pretty good, but grasshoppers were terrible," said Anderson.

So though it may seem like there are more grasshoppers than normal when you walk outside, the rain the state has seen this summer has kept their presence in check.


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