Patrick B. McGuigan
(Editor’s Note: This is the first story in a three-part series on Gov. Mary Fallin’s executive appointments from her inauguration on Feb. 7 through May 31.)
OKLAHOMA CITY — Thirty of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s 120 nominees to commissions, boards, advisory bodies and other positions in state government were re-appointments.
“In the midst of everything else that was going on — including nearly 3,000 bills in the Legislature, extreme natural disasters and getting her footing as governor — reappointments were no surprise. But going forward, we should see fewer and fewer re-appointments,” said Stuart Jolly, Oklahoma director at Americans for Prosperity in Oklahoma City.
According to information her staff prepared at CapitolBeatOK’s request, Fallin made 120 appointments, 90 of which were new, before the end of the 2011 legislative session, officially on May 27. Most of Fallin’s re-appointees came to statewide posts during Democratic Gov. Brad Henry’s administration, Fallin’s predecessor, but a few have longer tenure.
Several re-appointments, some to the governor’s Cabinet, garnered praise from conservatives and many others.
In this number were Oscar Jackson at the Office of Personnel Management, Albert Ashwood at Emergency Management, Alex Pettit as the state chief information officer, and Myles Deering as adjutant general.
Viewed with more skepticism in conservative ranks was the choice of Gary Ridley as Cabinet Secretary of Transportation. However, James Inhofe, senior U.S. Senator, praised the “re-up” for Ridley, as did former Transportation Secretary (and Chickasaw Nation television spokesman) Neal McCaleb.
Most Fallin choices have been conservative Republicans, Jolly said.
“I’m not certain that there is a theme in Gov. Fallin’s appointments, and that’s not a bad thing. I would say that she has done a quality job of putting people into positions they are qualified for,” he said. “Gov. Fallin also reappointed many, and that may have been more of an expediency move than a strategic one. She didn’t just appoint Republicans. More than a few Democrats were appointed to key positions.”