Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Several Oklahomans are under serious consideration for positions in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Those mentioned are, generally speaking, a matter for celebration among many in the Sooner State. Some individuals named in news stories have attracted critical scrutiny from liberals inside and outside of the state -- people concerned about the substance of the policy views of these potential nominees -- but those named in recent news stories largely match the state’s deeply-felt conservatism (http://www.news9.com/story/34240408/oklahomans-on-list-of-potential-members-in-trump-administration).
But then, there’s U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullins, R-Westville, the Second Congressional District member of Congress. He is named in some recent news reports as a leading candidate to run the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), a key arm of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Elected in 2012, Mullin promised to serve only three terms (a total of six years). In this he was following the path trod first by former U.S. Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, a hero to state conservatives.
Coburn kept his promise to leave the House after three terms, then returned to elected office in the U.S. Senate, which he left after 10 years.
In a July 2016 press release, U.S. Term Limits, a national organization, highlighted that Mullin “signed a pledge in 2011 vowing to co-sponsor legislation for congressional term limits, then broke his word by never sponsoring the bill.” (https://www.termlimits.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Markwayne-Mullin-Press-Release.pdf)
Within the state, multiple sources reported on Mullin’s clear declaration he would serve no more than three terms in Congress, and there’s video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-q9fnod3Fo) to document that pledge.
However, The Oklahoman (http://newsok.com/article/5488585) and other news organizations have reported over the past year on his “reassessment” of that vow.
Rep. Mullin was among the Republican members of Congress who early this month sought to dismantle an often-controversial ethics office.
As Indianz.com reported (http://www.indianz.com/News/2017/01/03/donald-trump-supporter-benefits-from-gut.asp), Mullin has been the subject of an investigation that has lasted three years, concerning allegations he used congressional resources to benefit his personal business.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, did not want that office abolished. President-elect Trump, who has promised to “clear the swamp” in the nation’s capital, agreed with Ryan. Just hours after the initial spike, the office was retained in a notable reversal by the GOP House caucus.
A member of the Cherokee Nation, Mullin supported Trump in the latter stages of the 2016 campaign for the GOP nomination. While those factors (tribal membership, Trump support) might seem to commend him for a job at BIA, many advocates of Indian Country prerogatives were startled when several news organizations, including Reuters, reported Mullin wanted to privatize some Native American holdings (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-tribes-insight-idUSKBN13U1B1).
Mullin subsequently asserted his views in the matter had been distorted.
His unorthodox approach to politics and ethics-linked controversies did not seem to hurt Mullin in the last election, when he garnered 70 percent of the popular vote in November.
But on the national state things might play out differently.
Last year, Rep. Mullin drew the wrath of groups supportive of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the wildly popular sports entertainment industry.
As posted last summer by CapitolBeatOK (http://www.capitolbeatok.com/letter-to-the-editor/oppose-h-r-5365-the-muhammad-ali-expansion-act), Mullin’s House Resolution 5365 drew a broad coalition of MMA groups and free-market allies. A coalition of conservatives and pro-business organizations wrote, in a joint letter to members of Congress, that the Mullin legislation violated multiple standards of conservative philosophy:
“[W]e are deeply concerned about the growing federal regulatory leviathan. It regulates our lives in countless intrusive and burdensome ways. According to the Mercatus Center, economic growth in the U.S. has been slowed by 0.8 percent per year since 1980 which means, had regulation held constant from 1980 through 2012, the U.S. economy would be 25 percent larger – a delta of $4 trillion – which amounts to a benefit of $13,000 per person in the United States.”
In that instance, Mullin’s critics included 20 leaders from these free-market groups: Frontiers of Freedom, Institute for Liberty, The Weyrich Lunch, 60 Plus Association, American Commitment, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Less Government, Able Americans, Independent Women’s Voice, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, National Center for Public Policy Research, One Day in America, American Conservative Union, Children First Foundation, Mental Recession, Richochet.com, Campaign for Liberty, and Republican Liberty Caucus.