Friday, October 21, 2022

Stitt: did Hofmeister use scandal-ridden Epic Charter School donors to repay her personal campaign loans?

This release from the Stitt campaign came directly after the gubernatorial debate Wednesday night:

State Sup Hofmeister trading Epic donations for??

Oklahoma City, October 19th   |  Governor Kevin Stitt tonight questioned State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister why she has not given back more than $50,000 in donations from Epic Charter School administrators to her campaigns.

The reason is clear. From 2016-2018, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was taking donations from Epic Charter Schools to pay down her debt simultaneously while Superintendent Hofmeister was considering an application by Epic Charter’s administrators to expand their operations in Oklahoma.

From 2016-2018, Joy Hofmeister repaid herself $22,000 towards debt from prior campaigns 

According to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, the following disbursements were made from the Friends of Joy Hofmeister campaign to Joy Hofmeister for debt retirement from prior committee. 

Joy Hofmeister made a $4,000 loan repayment the day after she took $2,700 from Epic CFO Josh Brock; Another $3,000 loan repayment (May 2018) was made within a week of taking $2,700 from Brock

According to an Oct. 1, 2020, Fox 23 report, “Oklahoma’s State Auditor Cyndi Byrd released the first of three investigative reports on Thursday that details the discoveries made after completing a special investigative audit issued by Governor Kevin Stitt in 2019 on Epic Charter Schools.”

According to the same report, “The investigation revealed that the school’s founders, Ben Harris and David Chaney, were making the financial decisions without any board approvals. The Chief Financial Officer, Josh Brock, who answers to the two founders was also making financial decisions without any accountability.”  

According to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, Joy Hofmeister has taken the following contributions from Joshua Brock.

PLEASE NOTE: ***According to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, Kevin Stitt has not taken money from Joshua Brock.***

The May 2018 contribution from Josh Brock came as Epic Charter Schools had an application before the Oklahoma Department of Education to open a virtual alternative school.

In a May 25, 2018, article, Oklahoma Watch reported, “The state’s largest virtual charter school wants to open an alternative high school for at-risk students, saying the school will better address the needs of struggling students who already attend or will enroll in its regular online school.

“If the state approves, Epic Charter Schools would begin enrolling students in its alternative school for the 2018-19 school year. Epic would become the second virtual school in the state that is a designated alternative school. The other is Insight School of Oklahoma, which along with Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, is part of the national chain of K12 online schools.

“Online-only schools already attract many at-risk and academically deficient students. School leaders say virtual alternative schools are set up to focus on helping those students overcome personal and learning hurdles in order to get a high school degree.

“The state Department of Education is reviewing Epic’s application, which was submitted May 9.”

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