On Wednesday, The Tulsa World reported that an auditor with the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO) – a little-known state agency that oversees a $2.7-billion portfolio in real estate, land, and mineral rights holdings – was recently terminated by the agency after she dared look into a financial conflict of interest between the agency's director, Elliot Chambers, and a totally legitimate, not-in-any-way-shady local investment group with a douche bag-inspired name called Victorum Capital.
I guess Elliot Chamber didn't like that CLO's auditor – Erin Morgan – was asking valid and legitimate questions about his plan to use Victorum Capital – a company that he has both a personal and financial interest in – to manage state resources, so they forced her out and had her sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Fortunately, an open records trail about that audit had been started and documented before the NDA was signed, so we have an idea as to what went down...
In February, Morgan hand-delivered to Hofmeister and Byrd the documents and notes that the World obtained through a public records request to Hofmeister’s office.
In her notes, Morgan wrote that in light of the conflict of interest concerns reported to her, it struck her as “odd” at a Dec. 16 meeting of the commissioners when the state auditor voted no on two items: a new investment plan to allow for direct investments or “non-marketable securities” and an expansion of Victorum’s role at CLO to also manage those direct investments.
A director in the agency had gone to Morgan and questioned that expanded role because it would mean “essentially that Victorum Capital would be monitoring itself.”
That's pretty outrageous. If only this state had a legitimate media to warn us about this stuff in advance, perhaps we could block these shady grifts that corrupt our government before they happen!
Okay, so we basically called way back in 2020 after Chambers was hired. I guess that means you can say you heard here first!
Morgan was fired less than a week after she initially approached Chambers in early January about the concerns. She claims that he acknowledged to her that he pays to participate in Victorum Capital’s investment club and that it makes investments on his behalf.
“I asked him if he saw it as a conflict of interest that he conducted business with Victorum and still conducts business with Victorum outside of the CLO. He stated no,” Morgan wrote in the notes she shared with Hofmeister. “He was extremely angry and stated that he was alarmed that I was taking this path of questions. … He stated that he was offended and that what I was saying was that he was doing the nefarious activities that he was a crook and a bad guy.”
Morgan wrote that she told Chambers it was her job “to assess risks to the agency.” When asked if she was “conducting an inquiry,” she said she told Chambers she was just gathering information ahead of an upcoming CLO Audit Committee meeting in case it was “something that I needed to bring to their attention.”
Yep, nothing suspicious here. We just have the director of a state agency firing an independent auditor for looking into a conflict of interest the director may have with a mysterious vendor that he hired to work for the agency.
I'm sure that's fine and totally normal.
If the Swadley's Foggy Bottom Swindel taught us one thing, it's that private corporations led by people who are buddies with agency directors always have the Oklahoma taxpayers' best interests at heart, and can totally be trusted to monitor and regulate themselves and do the right thing without any pesky oversight, especially if they get to charge management fees!
Yep, everything's fine. Or is it?
From what I'm hearing via the Ogle Mole Network, there should be more juicy stuff to emerge from this scandal over the next month or so. Just like with all the other shady dealing going on in the Stitt Admin, who knows how deep it all goes.
If you have any inside scoop about the Commissioners of the Land Office and/or Victorum Capital that we need to know about, please shoot us an email. We'd love to shine a spotlight on all the people, places, and things that could be involved in another Oklahoma government grift.