Republican or Democrat — all Oklahomans want accountability from public officials, state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan said Thursday.

McMahan was in Muskogee campaigning for a second term in office.

He has one opponent, Republican Gary Jones of Lawton, on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

McMahan, of Tecumseh, is an 18-year veteran of the auditor’s office, having started as an audit tech and working his way up. Being state auditor and inspector and the watchdog over taxpayers’ money is a rewarding career, he said.

“It makes them feel good when I am able to inform citizens there are checks and balance on how their tax dollars are spent,” McMahan said. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel all 77 counties, and regardless of what party they belong to, Oklahomans expect similar things of their government.”

What they expect, he said, is:

• Government programs and services to be managed with due diligence.

• To receive some kind of value for tax dollars.

• That their elected officials are forthcoming and accountable.

“They all expect that and they deserve that,” McMahan said. “That’s what we try to do at the state auditor’s office through the audits we conduct.”

McMahan said his office gained national recognition for its performance audit program.

“That’s where you answer your question of whether you are receiving value,” he said.

One of the first areas targeted by the performance audit division was the state’s vehicle fleet.

What they found immediately was no one knew just how many vehicles state agencies owned. They also found state employees driving sports utility vehicles to and from work.

“When you have parents and grandparents at their homes deciding whether to get their prescriptions filled or to buy groceries because they don’t have enough money for both, and you’ve got state employees driving big, four-door Suburbans and other gas-guzzling vehicles — well, we need to be taking care of real services and not ourselves,” McMahan said.

The audit resulted in an infusion of $3.7 million as the Department of Transportation sold unnecessary vehicles.

McMahan said over the last four years his office has operated with 17 percent fewer people and released more than 1,400 audit reports — more than in any other four-year audit period.

He said he hopes to be re-elected and in his next term push for legislation to allow the Auditor and Inspector to do the audits of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Oklahoma Lottery Commission. Those audits now are done by audit firms hired by the two agencies.

McMahan said the public has a right to know how those agencies are spending their funds, and he will fight for legislation to get that right for taxpayers.

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