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Mazzei Minute: 11/03/23

The taxpayers have been ripped off once again. In June, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General determined that $200 billion of the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program was fraudulently collected by bad actors.

Over and over again, the DC swamp is overly generous with taxpayer money, and devious persons and businesses jump to the trough to gorge on free money. Of the total $1.2 trillion that was disbursed to help businesses shocked by the pandemic to retain their employees, 17% was used fraudulently.

In Tulsa, a few of the fraudsters were recently convicted of bank fraud with prison sentences and fines. We appreciate the good work of U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson who led the prosecution against William and Michelle Sullivan who bilked taxpayers out of $2.7 million for personal usage.

Compare that to the highly successful $1.2 billion in CARES Act emergency funding that went to the state of Oklahoma in 2020 to be distributed in 8 months. The team built by then Chief Operating Officer John Budd and myself in my capacity as Secretary of Budget worked diligently with extra long hours to ramp up over 60 relief programs for rental assistance, small business relief grants and emergency medical services in a very transparent manner with extensive accountability.

The audit recently completed by Cindy Bird, the State Auditor, reported that an amazing 99% of all issued grants and recipients were done in compliance with federal rules and regulations. Our amazing Program Management Group contends that even that 1% of paperwork issues is debatable, but we’ll take the win!

The team recently celebrated the success with a fun reunion. Thousands of Oklahomans received critical assistance during that challenging period, and I’m super pleased to remind folks that here in Oklahoma, there are tremendous people that truly want to serve and help others.


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