Taxpayer money approved for Oklahoma governor’s ex-company

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A state panel that includes appointees of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has approved more taxpayer subsidies for the Jenks-based company the governor founded and ran until after his election in 2018.

The three-member Quality Jobs Program Incentive Approval Committee on Thursday voted unanimously to approve an application from Gateway First Bank. The contract was first reported by the online publication The Frontier.

Two of the members who approved the application, Department of Commerce Director Brent Kisling and Oklahoma Tax Commission Chairman Charles Prater, were appointed by Stitt.

Under the program, companies that create up to $2.5 million in new annual payrolls within three years can qualify for quarterly cash payments of up to 5% of new payroll costs.

The company already has received more than $876,000 in taxpayer subsidies under an existing contract under the program, state records show. The maximum benefit allowed under the contract is nearly $1.8 million.

Stitt founded Gateway Mortgage Group and served as its CEO until after he was elected governor in 2018. After that, the state’s attorney general approved Stitt’s plan to separate from the company, which later became a bank.

Stitt spokeswoman Baylee Lakey said the governor did not communicate about the matter with Gateway officials or committee members.