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State Rep: House Special Investigative Committee will expand work to Tourism Department

The entry way for Oklahoma's departments of Commerce and Tourism. (KOKH){ }

The Oklahoma House of Representative’s Special Investigative Committee will expand its focus from the Health Department to the Department of Tourism following an in-depth FOX 25 Investigation into the agency.

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“I've already got the word they are going to be looking at Tourism for their mismanagement,” said Representative Bobby Cleveland (R, Slaughterville), who serves on the committee.

RELATED: FOX 25 Investigates: What wrongful terminations are costing taxpayers

Cleveland said he was shocked to learn the details about the inner workings of the Tourism Department during a four-part FOX 25 Investigation. Our stories showed cases where courts ruled that the agency improperly terminated employees and detailed the federal investigations into the agency.

RELATED: FOX 25 Investigates: Federal investigations into Department of Tourism

“I was furious there is just no room in the state of Oklahoma for employees to be treated that way,” Cleveland said.

The agency was first informed about employee concerns with management when a state audit was released in 2016 that detailed issues in the agency. One of the problems Auditor Gary Jones’ office noted was there was "an atmosphere of mistrust and poor communication exists between employees and executive management.”

RELATED: FOX 25 Investigates: Who's responsible for oversight of Tourism Department?

Cleveland says if just treating people right isn't enough reason itself, it's also more cost effective to treat employees with respect during these troubled budget times.

“We should treat everyone respectfully and if you've got a happy employee they will do a much better job when they are happy,” Cleveland said.

Details of the House Special Investigative Committee’s plans are not public yet. The committee issued its first subpoenas this week in connection to the Health Department.

Cleveland said the committee will use its subpoena power when it looks into the Tourism Deparment.

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