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Search warrant executed at Tinker Air Force Base housing office, Sen. Inhofe says

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) speaks with reporters following a policy lunch on June 12, 2018 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Alex Edelman/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)

The Air Force and Environmental Protection Agency executed a search warrant at the offices of the private contractor responsible for numerous problems with family housing at Tinker Air Force Base, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday.

The warrant allowed authorities to search the Tinker offices of Balfour Beatty Communities, according to the senator.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said, “The warrant was related to suspected Clean Air Act violations by Balfour Beatty Communities. I thank federal law enforcement for doing their part to investigate any alleged wrongdoing, and I encourage Balfour Beatty Communities to cooperate fully with the investigation.

“While this matter is still very much under investigation, should these or any of the other ongoing federal investigations be substantiated, Balfour Beatty and those who perpetrated any wrongdoing against our military families must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

Inhofe, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, held hearings last year on the shoddy housing and slipshod repairs made by private contractors at Tinker and other military installations. The defense bill co-authored by Inhofe added some protections for families, including a tenant’s bill of rights, and stricter oversight of the contractors.

The Reuters news agency and other media outlets revealed the housing deficiencies and the contractors’ failure to provide prompt remedies. Media reports have also led to investigations of whether Balfour Beatty Communities falsified maintenance reports.

A spokesperson for Balfour Beatty Communities said Wednesday, “Balfour Beatty Communities has received a subpoena issued on behalf the Environmental Protection Agency relating to Tinker AFB. The investigation is connected to the matter of asbestos flooring removal that was reported in September 2019. When that event occurred, BBC promptly and voluntarily reported the incident to the local Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. The company will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation.”

Last May, Tinker leaders visited all 600 housing units and found problems in 20% that “run the myriad of housing discrepancies,” from mold to pest control.

The head of the EPA, which helped execute the search warrant at Tinker, is Andrew Wheeler, who was staff director for Inhofe on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.


© 2020 The Oklahoman