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Editorial Discretion for the August 28 Runoff: Gentner Drummond for Attorney General

Gentner Drummond, candidate for Oklahoma Attorney General. File photo
Gentner Drummond, candidate for Oklahoma Attorney General. File photo

The City Sentinel Endorsement

In terms of legal experience and courtroom ability, Gentner Drummond is the best choice Republicans can make in the Tuesday, August 28 runoff.
The City Sentinel listed him among those we support, in the June print edition’s primary endorsements. Here is a more formal and explicit statement of support, adapted and expanded from our online endorsement in June.

If you believed every press release from the current occupant of the state attorney general’s office (whether from his campaign or his agency), you would conclude the state has never been in better hands. If you accept at face value every single news story about the challenger, Mr. Drummond, you would suspect some sort of moral leper wants to run the A.G.’s office.
We have different view, as do many attorneys who have both worked with and against this particular lawyer, and whose counsel we value.

Drummond is capable and intelligent.
The sum total of most of the assaults on his good name come down to this: He is a hard-working lawyer who has made his living in the bare-knuckled world of courtroom law, rather than in corporate boardrooms and the halls of governmental power.

The front-runner and his allies act as if they are entitled to assail Drummond, then take offense when he responds with his own tough advertisements. Things got so vicious before the primary that Andy Coats (the former Oklahoma City mayor) was compelled to defend Drummond’s work on behalf of a woman (Coats’ step-daughter) Drummond had helped after she became blind – legal labor that somehow was made an issue in the first-round of the nomination battle.
Coats wrote in a letter to the editor of The Oklahoman, “Having been in and out of politics for a good part of my life, I know that anything about one’s life is fair game for attacks by political opponents. However, it does seem a shame that a noble gesture can be used as the basis for a political attack. It was a good deed, and it hasn’t gone unpunished. In our family, Gentner Drummond is a hero.”

Speaking of heroes, Drummond is accustomed to the stress of high-stakes military service. He served in the U.S. Air Force and was a fighter pilot, serving in the Gulf War. Some details of his biography are under-reported, including his charitable work in northeast Oklahoma, his leadership in the Boy Scouts and his success in a real business with real employees.

And there is this about Drummond: He is not an ally of the status quo in Oklahoma.

The current occupant of the office has sustained the spendthrift ways of his predecessor, rather than seeking the efficiencies that have been required in most parts of state government. That current occupant has repeatedly referenced the work of the multi-county grand jury investigation of problems in the Oklahoma Department of Health, as helping to make the case for his nomination.
While the report documented chapter and verse of the shocking scandal and diversion of funds at the agency, it required amazingly confused logic to avoid even a single indictment based on the evidence in the report.
Perhaps the more disappointing conclusions in the grand jury report are not really that surprising. After all, the guy in charge of the lawyers who guided the grand jury had been just about everything but a full-time practicing attorney until his appointment to run the state’s most important legal office.
Prosecutorial discretion is a one thing, but prosecutorial paralysis is another.

Speaking of the Health Department, they bore responsibility for crafting fair rules to implement State Question 788. They utterly bungled the job, leading to the re-do which is now under way.
Once again, the incumbent attorney general entered the picture a day late and a dollar short, giving guidance that might have lessened the agency’s dysfunctional first attempt at rules.

On the one hand, this current appointed A.G. wants to take credit for damn near every good thing that has happened in the Sooner State over the past 18 months. On the other hand, he says critics of his office’s role in sustaining (rather than ending) the shameful gap in the processing of rape kits by law enforcement agencies simply don’t understand how the A.G.’s works.

The view here about the current appointed occupant is different than his defenders have projected over recent weeks. We respect some of those defenders, but we have more than a passing understanding of the attorney general’s office. And we reach different conclusions about this important nomination battle.
Priorities at the A.G.’s office are set at the top. Press releases distributed on the government’s dime do not always represent properly-arranged priorities. Sometimes they represent government as usual. And government as usual is the last thing Oklahomans want or need in 2018.
Attorneys General here and in other states tout transparency for other state agencies, but rarely for their own. The guy now in charge of the state’s lawyers is no exception.

Happily, there is a choice. Drummond was able force the runoff for August 28, so there’s still time to choose the best option.
Gentner Drummond will work for you, not for the status quo.
In the spring of this year, rebutting one of the dozens of attacks on his record, Drummond reflected:
“The people of Oklahoma did not choose a lobbyist from Washington, D.C., to be their attorney general. He was handed the keys to that office with the stroke of Mary Fallin’s pen. Fortunately, the people of Oklahoma will have the final say in who serves them as attorney general.

Just a few months ago, this primary was a close call, but no more.
With every vicious advertisement and hard exchange, it has become clearer that Oklahoma deserves better.

Have the final say. Vote for the alternative to the status quo.
In the August 28 runoff, Republicans are encouraged to nominate Gentner Drummond for Attorney General of Oklahoma.

Editor’s Note: This is revised from the primary endorsement of Drummond given online, June 25.

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