‘Not Acceptable’: Committees Pass Ban on OSDE Public Relations Spending

KOKH - May 29, 2024 6:35 am

The Oklahoma House and Senate Joint Committees on Appropriations and Budget unanimously passed a ban on the Oklahoma State Department of Education from spending money on certain public relations efforts.

State Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore) doesn’t want public funds going towards what he called a personal public relations campaign for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters (R).

The measure was part of a larger bill that set aside funds for education in Oklahoma.

FOX 25 was the first to report on tax dollars going to various out-of-state firms for services like video production and landing the state superintendent interviews.

For example, $30,000 went to northern Virginia-based Vought Strategies, a press and media communications firm.

Over $70,000 has gone to Texas-based Precision Outreach to make videos on topics ranging from teachers’ unions to bathroom safety concerns involving trans-identifying students.

That may eventually come to an end if what lawmakers agreed to on Monday goes forward.

According to Rep. McBride, “When it’s strictly about your, your PR campaign, that’s not acceptable.”

According to the language lawmakers approved, money set aside for OSDE can’t go to securing interviews, public relations, or other public promotional purposes unless required to participate in a federal grant program.

Rep. McBride helped spearhead the language.

He noted, “Some of these things have been on everybody’s radar for some time. My radar and others. But, but more of this stuff is coming to the surface.”

The lawmaker understands that agencies may need to contract with out-of-state firms for various reasons, but public relations alone shouldn’t be one of them in his view.

“Not a good use of public dollars,” he argued.

Rep. McBride also raised concerns the firms that obtained OSDE contracts were connected to the state superintendent’s adviser Matt Langston.

A department spokesman previously told FOX 25 that Superintendent Walters wants to bring dramatic change to schools and ensure the left-wing media didn’t mispresent his ideas.

The department did not immediately respond to FOX 25’s request for comment on Monday.

Rep. McBride expects the governor to eventually approve the OSDE funding plan.


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