Oklahoma Commission of Land Office secretary resigns over allegations of wrongdoing

Fixed: Governor Stitt’s name was misspelled in one instance. The spelling mistake has been corrected.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Elliot Chambers, the secretary of the Oklahoma Commission of Land Office, has resigned following allegations that he fired an internal auditor who questioned him about a conflict of interest potential.

Photo by Elliot Chambers, Oklahoma State

Chambers’ resignation was announced at a special committee meeting on Thursday.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, who was at the meeting, seated at the head of the table, said Chambers came to him on Tuesday and told him he was going to resign. He thanked Chambers for his service.

“He’s always welcome in the locker room,” Stitt said of Chambers.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who is also one of five CLO members, recently called on Chambers to step down. She also sent a letter Wednesday to Oklahoma County Attorney David Prater asking him to investigate the operations and finances of the CLO.

“Attached to this request are documents provided by the former CLO internal auditor detailing potential mismanagement and misuse of taxpayer funds and misuse of office by a state official,” Hofmeister said. in the letter. “Additional information has since been presented that leaves me in further doubt that the agency has been conducted in accordance with laws and regulations, including but not limited to conflicts of interest, personal transactions and embezzlement of taxpayers’ money Accordingly, I am making this request to your office.

image of the land office meeting
Extraordinary meeting of Land Office Commissioners, 30 June 2022. Image KFOR

The state Department of Education issued a press release, saying Chambers had fired Erin Morgan, an internal auditor who confronted him about potential conflicts of interest.

Hofmeister requested that the CLO meeting include a discussion of Chambers’ employment, as well as Morgan’s firing and subsequent settlement.

She said Morgan’s allegations, along with the allegations of another whistleblower, warrant an investigative audit of CLO’s operations and finances.

‘As I have said recently, the concerns raised by the former internal auditor for the Land Office Commissioners are alarming and need to be fully investigated,’ she said. “Since that time, additional information has come forward that leaves me with no confidence in the leadership of the agency under Secretary Chambers. Accordingly, I believe it is in Oklahoma’s interest that Secretary Chambers resign immediately and respectfully call upon him to do so.

Morgan had asked Chambers about his relationship with Victorum Capital, an investment firm doing business with the CLO. The commissioners voted 2 to 1 on December 16, 2021 to give Victorum the authority to manage direct investments for CLO.

Hofmeister opposed the action. She then asked Chambers to seek an opinion from the Attorney General on the legality of the 2-1 vote, but Chambers refused. She then asked Attorney General John O’Connor to provide an opinion on the 2-1 approval, according to the press release.

O’Connor indicated that he needed Hofmeister’s opinion on the matter before deciding whether to give an opinion. The press release called O’Connor’s response “peculiar.”

Gregory M. Roy