This is the best editorial for Oklahomans by Oklahomans.

Oklahoma Takes a Bow at the 1944 Democratic National Convention

justin brotton - Saturday, September 01, 2012

By Larry C. Floyd

As one of the reddest of the Republican states, Oklahoma will play a minimal role in the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. But back in the state’s once staunchly Democratic history, Oklahoma Gov. Robert S. Kerr’s stirring keynote address launched the Sooner State squarely into the national limelight at the 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Stealing the show for Oklahoma at this partisan gathering, Kerr’s ringing endorsement of Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal policies drove hordes of party faithful into a frenzied half-hour celebration on the convention floor. Coverage by the media and comments from party grandees on this Democratic oratory kept the state basking in the spotlight for months afterward.

The favorable publicity received by Oklahoma from Kerr’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time. The Dust Bowl and John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” had badly tarnished the state’s image in the 1930s. As if these weren’t enough, some of Oklahoma’s unfavorable publicity had been self-inflicted. Gov. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray’s rants in the national media and Gov. Leon “Red” Miller’s counter-productive battles against Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs had left many Americans shaking their heads in puzzlement at “those Okies.” A July 1938 Newsweek magazine article reported that Murray had publicly called a political opponent a “beerbellied, red-whiskered, bloated-faced, whiskey-nosed, poker-playing liar.”

Kerr replaced the irascible “Red” Miller as governor early in 1943 and immediately began mending fences with the Roosevelt administration. As Oklahoma’s Democratic national committeeman since 1940, the wealthy oilman was already on favorable terms with many Washington powerbrokers. The affable Kerr favored cooperation over confrontation with the FDR administration and soon began meeting regularly with the president in the White House.

Kerr’s dynamic oratorical skills and everyman persona made him a popular banquet speaker on the national political circuit, and his preaching of the Democratic gospel endeared him to party faithful across the country. In April 1944, former Oklahoma Gov. William J. Holloway nominated Kerr to national party officials for keynote speaker at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Chicago. While staying at the Hotel Washington in the nation’s capital, Holloway sent a telegram to Kerr on April 22 informing the governor of his intention to secure for him this influential speaking honor.

“Unless you stop me, I am going to try to do something about it,” Holloway wired. Kerr didn’t stop him.

Unsurprisingly, Roosevelt approved the Oklahoman’s selection for this prestigious address. No doubt Kerr’s warm relationship with the president and his reputation as a gifted orator had an influence, but the governor’s open support of an unprecedented fourth term for Roosevelt also weighed heavily in his choosing. Reporting on Kerr’s selection in mid-June, the New York Times stated that the FDR administration may also have favored the Oklahoman to help keep in line anti-New Deal Democrats from the South.

Rejecting the 40-page speech that Democratic Party officials offered him, Kerr and his close friend Henry G. Bennett, president of Oklahoma A&M College, retreated to the oilman’s Minnesota lake house to draft a new address. The governor may have been trying to impress Democratic Party officials by preparing his own speech. With the astute Dr. Bennett’s assistance, the keynote address was crafted to fit both Kerr’s Democrat Party convictions and his fluid speaking style.

Kerr arrived in Chicago in mid-July to practice this speech, amid speculation that he was being considered to replace Vice President Henry Wallace. Oklahoma’s 22 delegates soon arrived in Chicago in anticipation of the governor’s keynote address, which was to be delivered the evening of July 19, the opening day of the convention. In addition to the electoral delegates, Oklahoma had been allotted an additional 600 tickets for the evening session featuring Kerr’s oration. The Sooner State delegation hoped that a ringing speech by their governor might push him to the forefront as a vice-presidential candidate. Kerr probably had similar ideas.

A partisan crowd of 25,000 packed into old Chicago Stadium for the convention’s keynote speech that warm July evening. This same indoor arena had witnessed the nomination of Thomas E. Dewey for president just three weeks earlier at the Republican National Convention. Thousands of banners, streamers and flags bobbed in the excited, sweaty cross-section of America. Dozens of blazing lights were focused on the speaker’s stand. Veteran orator Kerr felt a stab of stage fright as DNC Chairman Robert Hannegan introduced him.

“I was never as nervous or any more scared than when I stepped up to face the crowd,” the governor later recalled. As he warmed to his speech, he became aware of the media’s intense scrutiny. “I soon realized that if I raised my arm, there would be a picture taken, and then another one when I lowered the arm.”

With America into its third year of conflict with Germany and Japan, Kerr’s address briefly put aside partisanship to recognize the sobering wartime reality. “The keynote of this convention and of America’s heart and mind and soul is in reality not being sounded here tonight,” the governor intoned. “It is rather being thundered by our fighting men around the world.”

Then the speech tossed out the red-meat partisanship it was meant to offer, and Kerr flawlessly delivered this harangue: “Do you remember the 12 long years from 1920 through 1932 when America hardened under Harding, cooled under Coolidge and hungered under Hoover?” the Oklahoman rhetorically asked as the throng howled in approval.

Kerr’s speech climaxed with his call for another term for Democratic icon Franklin Roosevelt. This in turn set off the wild, half-hour celebration on the stadium floor. Delegates poured down to the speaker’s stand, surrounding Kerr in a sea of state banners. Donning a Western-style hat, the keynote speaker joined in the celebration, grinning broadly and chatting amiably with the delegates. In the midst of the various signs swirling around Kerr, an Oklahoma state banner was suddenly thrust at him. He lifted it high above his head as the crowd roared in approval.

“The reception that it received is something I will always remember,” he recalled.

During this long interlude in the speech, the convention band played various songs from the popular Broadway musical “Oklahoma!” This production had opened in March 1943 at the St. James Theater on Broadway, and had begun a national tour in October. The show and its stirring title song had done much to erase the negative image generated by Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.” At the convention, songs from the musical combined with Kerr’s showmanship to create a magical moment in history for the Sooner State.

“It was truly an Oklahoma night!” the governor recalled.

Two days later, an editorial about Kerr’s speech in The Daily Oklahoman, entitled “Oklahoma Night,” spoke of the “glorious night for Governor Kerr” and the “glorious night for the people of Oklahoma.” Continuing this praise, the article added: “Not for a long, long time has Oklahoma received so much favorable publicity, if indeed it ever did.”

Despite Kerr’s rousing performance the first night of the convention, his chances for vice president never gained traction. Roosevelt had damned Vice President Wallace with faint praise before the convention, and Missouri Sen. Harry Truman emerged as a strong second choice as the party gathering began. Kerr had previously formed a friendship with Truman when the senator visited Oklahoma as chairman of the Senate war investigating committee.

Kerr’s biographer Anne Hodges Morgan later wrote that the governor probably realized he had little chance to win the vice-presidential nomination, so he joined other Democratic leaders to ensure Truman’s victory. Despite Kerr’s cooperation with the party, his brother Aubrey later contradicted Morgan’s version of events. In an interview following the wealthy oilman’s death in 1963, Aubrey Kerr said the governor “expected to be nominated” by Democratic officials and was “quite disappointed” that he was not. Democratic Party Chairman Robert Hannegan, a close friend of Kerr’s, apparently had supported the Oklahoman’s nomination, but explained to him at the convention that Roosevelt only had eyes for Truman as his running mate.

Still, Kerr’s speech and the half-hour of Oklahoma-centered celebration on the convention floor greatly burnished the sullied image of the Sooner State in the mid-1940s. The governor and state residents basked in the afterglow long afterward.

“The vice presidential lightning didn’t strike,” Kerr summed up a in a letter to a friend shortly after the convention, “but we Oklahomans put on a pretty good show, at that.”

Money, Politics, Scandal and Murder: Oklahoma Oilman Jake Hamon’s Sordid Scheme for a White House Cabinet Post

justin brotton - Wednesday, August 01, 2012

By Larry C. Floyd


New concerns grow over the unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions in the 2012 general election, but the public may take comfort in the country’s survival after even more egregious influence by moneyed interests in the 1920 U.S. presidential campaign. At the center of the money storm that year during scandal-plagued Warren G. Harding’s election stood Oklahoma oilman Jake L. Hamon. This corrupt and ambitious millionaire could well have served as a role model for the later fictitious scoundrel J.R. Ewing of “Dallas” television series fame.

A prominent Republican in early state politics, the shady Hamon ventured east in the spring of 1920 with $1 million in cash to purchase favor for the oil industry from a future president. The scheming Oklahoman succeeded resoundingly by procuring the nomination and election of former Ohio governor Harding. For his contributions to the Harding campaign, Hamon was poised to join the new president’s White House cabinet and almost certainly would have been at the center of the infamous Teapot Dome oil scandal – if not for his untimely murder in an Ardmore hotel at the hands of his jilted mistress.

Hamon began a shaky rise to political prominence as the first city attorney for Lawton, the southwest Oklahoma town founded in 1901. Presaging future corruption, he was accused of extorting money from local gamblers and was ousted by voters in 1903. In 1910, Hamon became embroiled in a national controversy when accused of attempting to bribe U.S. Sen. Thomas P. Gore, an Oklahoma Democrat. Despite his controversies, heavy drinking and womanizing, Hamon struck it rich in 1914 with his oil leases in the Healdton Field near Ardmore.

Along the way to his oil fortune, the dissolute Hamon had abandoned his wife, Georgia, for an attractive, dark-complexioned Lawton store clerk nearly 20 years his junior. The former Clara Belle Smith became Mrs. Hamon after Jake paid his nephew Frank Hamon $10,000 to marry and then desert Clara, who had become the oilman’s private secretary and mistress. This sham marriage and same last name was contrived to make travel and lodging together easier for middle-aged Jake and his young female companion.

With the business-savvy Clara looking out for his oil holdings in Oklahoma, Jake took his hefty sum of cash to Washington, D.C. in April 1920 to meet with presidential contender Harding’s campaign manager, the bare-knuckled Ohio politician and future U.S. attorney general Harry M. Daugherty. As Oklahoma’s Republican national committeeman, Hamon impressed Daugherty with his bankroll and his pledge to switch the Oklahoma delegation’s votes to the Harding camp for the right offer at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Chicago. Just a few months earlier, the Oklahoma oilman had been introduced to Harding in New York City, and there had learned that the future president’s wife, Florence, was a second cousin to Hamon’s estranged wife. The scheming Oklahoman may have eyed this connection as an opportunity, but it ultimately proved his undoing.

The 1920 Republican National Convention opened June 8 at the Chicago Coliseum with Harding as a dark horse and well behind favorites Gen. Leonard Wood and Illinois Gov. Frank Lowden. Renowned journalist William Allen White later recounted in his autobiography how he had never seen a presidential convention “so dominated by sinister economic forces as was this.”

Hamon and oil moguls Harry F. Sinclair and Edwin L. Doheny stood out at the convention as opportunity-seeking representatives of the petroleum industry. “Hamon was in Chicago to buy himself a cabinet position,” White later wrote, and the outlook appeared promising for the Oklahoman with his 50 state delegates and bundles of cash to buy other states’ delegates.

After the fourth nominating ballot on Friday, June 11, while no clear winner had emerged, Harding had moved into fourth place with 62 delegates. Convention chair Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts gaveled the proceedings to a halt in late afternoon, and party insiders congregated that evening in the infamous “smoke-filled room” at the nearby Blackstone Hotel. Later reports credited this gathering at the hotel with Harding’s nomination the next day as a compromise candidate. Some historians, however, have disputed this legendary conspiracy of politicians as an oversimplification and a distortion of these clandestine maneuverings.

Indeed, much of the key political maneuvering that evening was performed by Jake Hamon away from the room full of Republican Party Brahmans at the Blackstone Hotel. After being thrown out of nominee front-runner Gen. Leonard Wood’s hotel room following a bribery attempt, Hamon partnered with the Harding campaign. The oilman paid $250,000 in cash to titular Republican Party boss Sen. Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania to release his state delegates to Harding.

In a later account of the evening’s convention proceedings, noted Oklahoma newspaperman E.J. Costello wrote of meeting a disheveled Hamon in the early morning hours at the Blackstone Hotel. Well acquainted from Oklahoma politics, the two chatted, and the journalist pressed the oilman for a scoop. Initially reluctant to respond, Hamon eventually relented. “Well, Ed,” he replied furtively, “Warren Harding will be the nominee. I’ll be in the cabinet.”

Fulfilling Hamon’s prediction, the second day’s balloting slowly turned toward Harding. In the sixth round of voting late in the afternoon, Pennsylvania’s 76 votes threw in with Hamon’s delegates to carry the unheralded senator from Ohio to the party’s nomination. The Oklahoma oilman rushed to the new nominee to be the first to extend congratulations. Harding’s campaign manager later gave credit to Hamon for his integral role in the nominating process, stating that the oilman “had more influence among the delegates than any other man at the convention.” Exactly right – at least $1 million worth.

Before the fall election, Hamon met at an Ohio retreat with key members of Harding’s “Ohio Gang,” comprising “one of the most astonishing collections of crooks, grafters and blackmailers ever assembled.” The Oklahoma oilman fit right in with Harding’s entourage, and was soon named to the campaign’s executive committee. Taking his role on the committee seriously – and protecting his future interests – Hamon strongly advised against Harding’s homebound “front-porch strategy” and urged the senator to make a national speaking tour. In an Aug. 16, 1920 letter from Ardmore, the Oklahoman bluntly told the candidate: “Frankly, Senator, I am of the opinion that if the plan of campaign that is now being pursued is continued up to the election, you will be defeated.”

Harding relented and took to the campaign trail in September with a round of speeches in Maryland, West Virginia and Kentucky. At Hamon’s urging, Harding continued his speaking tour with a trip to Oklahoma City on Oct. 9. Arriving by trail, the campaign party was received by a “tumultuous demonstration” arranged and funded by the oilman, a campaign stop that the Daily Oklahoman called “the nosiest, gladdest, maddest day” the Republicans had seen in many years in the Democrat-controlled state.

On November 2, Harding and his vice-presidential running mate, Calvin Coolidge, carried 37 states to defeat Democratic presidential nominee James M. Cox and his running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Oklahoma Republican candidates were swept along in the vote for Harding, with John W. Harreld winning a U.S. Senate contest and five of the state’s eight U.S. House seats taken by the Grand Old Party.

Eminent Oklahoma historian Angie Debo credited the Hamon-Daugherty partnership for the Republican triumph: “Hamon and Daugherty had worked before the national convention for Harding’s nomination, and it was partly due to this effective combination of politics and oil that Oklahoma joined the Republican column.”

Hamon’s machinations to exploit Harding’s election neared fruition, but squarely in the way of his acceptance into the administration loomed the inconvenient presence of his mistress, Clara. Some of the pressure for Hamon to abandon young Clara probably came from Harding’s wife, who took umbrage at her cousin’s mistreatment at the hands of her estranged husband. Planning to reunite with his wife, the scheming oilman reached a cash settlement with his secretary and paramour, who agreed to depart for California. But Clara, by then nearing 30 years of age, must have had second thoughts about her quiescent parting from a millionaire to whom she believed she had contributed so much. Before her final leave of Ardmore’s Randol Hotel, where she lived with Hamon, she made a trip to Oklahoma City to purchase a 25-caliber Colt automatic pistol.

The evening of Nov. 21, a seriously wounded Hamon walked two blocks from the Randol Hotel to the Hardy Sanitarium in downtown Ardmore. The oilman initially claimed that he had accidentally shot himself, and surgery to remove the bullet from his abdomen was believed to have saved his life. Several days later, a telegram from Colon, Panama, where Harding and his entourage were vacationing, came through to Ardmore: “Don’t worry. You will get well and will be Secretary of the Interior if you want it.”

On Nov. 26, however, Hamon suddenly deteriorated and his heart gave out, but not before his deathbed revelation that, in fact, Clara had shot him while they lay in bed at the Randol Hotel. Early on Nov. 29, a telegram from Harding reached Hamon’s wife, Georgia, who had recently returned to Oklahoma to reunite with her estranged husband. The message read: “Greatly grieved over Mr. Hamon’s death. He was a great citizen and a good friend....”

So ended the best-laid schemes of Jake Hamon to join the Harding administration, probably as Secretary of the Interior. Still, even without the conniving Oklahoma oilman, the corrupt Harding administration soon succumbed to oil-industry pressure and bribery to open up federal lands for exploitation, including the now infamous Teapot Dome fields in Wyoming. Congressional inquiries related to the Teapot Dome scandal further revealed Jake Hamon’s corrupt dealings with Harding’s “Ohio Gang” and confirmed his statements to close friends that he was likely to have been appointed Secretary of the Interior. In the midst of the distressing scandal, President Harding suffered a fatal heart attack and U.S. Attorney General Ed Daugherty – who, as Harding’s campaign manager, had schemed so successfully with Hamon – was forced to resign, along with Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall.

As an embarrassment to his home state, Jake Hamon was quickly relegated to Oklahoma’s historical dustheap, where his notoriety soon faded from public light. If not for a .25-caliber bullet fired by his jilted mistress, Hamon’s name might well have gone down in history books instead of that of Albert Fall as the crooked politician behind the disgraceful Teapot Dome scandal.

As in the past, money still plays a large role in our nation’s political elections. But the republic has survived these monetary onslaughts thus far – and probably will after the 2012 presidential campaign.

Author of “Oklahoma Hiking Trails” (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010), Larry C. Floyd teaches U.S. history at Seminole State College and writes frequently for The Chronicles of Oklahoma historical journal.

MARK COSTELLO … The Right Fellow

justin brotton - Thursday, September 01, 2011

By Kimberly Thomas

There are those who feel that Mark Costello is indeed the right fellow for Labor Commissioner. Sworn into office on January 10, 2011, he has since been changing the face of the Labor Department.

As a successful entrepreneur, he has seen firsthand the results of both good and bad business decisions. His educational background is in Humanities. Raised in Green Country, Costello graduated high school in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and received his education at the University of Kansas.

“I returned to Oklahoma to raise a family and build a business, American Computer and Telephone (AMCAT) and its affiliated companies,” he said. “For 25 years we created countless jobs, generated tens of millions of dollars of payroll and over $200 million in revenue.”

After a time, Costello realized that his experience gave him a unique perspective with which to address Oklahoma’s labor needs.

“My experience proved invaluable as I gathered support for my campaign,” he said.

In July 2010, he garnered Oklahoma’s Republican nomination for the post.

Costello is quick to point to Cathy, his wife of 29 years, and his family as the reason he will leave a legacy of change.

“I would have a hard time accomplishing my goals without a strong support system,” he said.

Commissioner Costello strongly believes natural law supersedes political law.

“I was fortunate to have had three great professors while at the University of Kansas, who all taught me that truth is knowable and concrete; rocks are hard, water is wet and fire is hot,” he said. “I also learned during college that the importance of knowledge is not in the knowing, but in what you do with what you know. I believe common sense will ultimately prevail and Oklahomans will eventually see a bona fide need for reform, but it is never easy when you are the one making the changes.”

In order to engage the public and to allow Oklahoma citizens to more easily contact the labor office, Costello’s team created a Facebook page.

“Our outreach is part of educating Oklahomans to think more about their role in government and how they can get involved in making change,” he said. “Allowing citizens easier access to their state offices educates them on available services and encourages their involvement with local government.”

As Costello took on the challenge associated with his office, he realized at a fundamental level that if current citizens are to leave a just and sustainable world for our youth, significant changes have to be made now.

During Costello’s campaign, he refused Political Action Committee money as well as funds from special interest groups, thus reducing conflicts of interest. Costello does not rely on polls for decision-making. He follows a deeper understanding of what he believes is good and right. It is easier for him to work toward the good of everyone since his conscience is not formed by contributors.

“This is not a commentary on others’ behavior; simply a personal choice that I felt would remove any hint of bias,” he said.

Costello shares that the success of his own Oklahoma company allowed him to be able to thrive under these conditions.

“If one expects great change, they should be willing to put forth the effort to obtain it,” he said.

Costello’s ability to successfully run a business gave him extensive budgetary experience, which helped him make difficult choices. One of his first acts in office was to return the state vehicle that came with his title, using his own car and not charging the state for travel. He also decided to return 15 percent of his annual salary.

“Government doesn’t reform itself – it requires proper leadership,” he said.

Costello also cut expenses by canceling unnecessary conferences, eliminating outdated positions and by returning unnecessary computers. He also established purchasing controls that eliminated duplicate purchases between departments. In part due to these cuts, the Labor Department is one of the few state agencies that has not implemented employee furloughs.

Representing the good of many requires an awareness of one’s own central beliefs. Yoga is one element Costello uses to remain centered in the high-stress climate of budgetary cutbacks and economic hardships. While not many men admit they even like yoga, Costello’s willingness to openly share his love of yoga is a testament to his ability to be vulnerable to constituents.

“I realize the importance of caring for myself so that I have the strength and integrity to be able to carry out my appointed duties,” he said.

Costello has gone to great lengths to avoid any suggestion of quid pro quo or promoting any one political agenda. One of the first policies implemented within the Labor Commission office after election was “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“It’s not what you think,” he says. “In the Labor office, it refers to discussing political affiliation. I believe politics can keep necessary changes from occurring if only one political perspective is considered. I ask my employees to be as unbiased as I try to be. Political affiliation should never enter into the workplace. It would be naïve to think that politics has no place in this job, especially since it is an elected post; however, I believe my employees and I are there to do a job for the citizens of both political parties.”

By March 2011, the Labor Department’s Safety Standards division had already issued 1,720 licenses, inspected 1,028 boilers and 439 amusement park rides. In addition to being in charge of licensing and employment policies, amusement ride, boiler and elevator inspections, enforcement of child labor laws, asbestos abatement and workers compensation enforcement, the Labor Department is also charged with “advancing opportunities of wage earners for profitable employment.”

Costello reports that last year Oklahoma lost approximately 10,000 graduates to other states having healthier employment opportunities.

“Continuing to lose our educated workforce to other states will result in Oklahoma losing economic ground,” he said. “To stay competitive with other markets, Oklahoma must provide jobs to graduates comparable with jobs available elsewhere. Since laws and regulations within a state effect where companies will move their businesses, fair labor standards reflect a good economic climate for companies. For the state to thrive, employment law must be mutually beneficial to employees and employers. Having been on both sides of the table, I understand the needs of both the working man and the employer.”

Resolving wage disputes is one of the labor department’s primary duties.

“Resolving disputes in a timely manner decreases stress on everyone involved in the process,” Costello said. “When I took office, there was a one-year backlog of wage disputes, so I immediately doubled the number of administrative law judges while lowering their hourly rate.” Only seven months later, the Labor Department is nearly caught up on wage disputes. By the end of the first year in office, wage disputes will be resolved within 90 days.

Costello’s “Safety Pays” program, originally designed to lower the workplace injuries in state offices, was so effective that it was expanded to service Oklahoma’s private sector.

“Our staff of safety consultants and industrial hygienists interacts with Oklahoma employers to create individualized safety programs,” he said. “Safety programs generally result in lower incidents of workplace injury and a stronger safety culture within the organization. In addition to the beneficial and long-lasting safety practices, there is now also a $1,000 tax deduction available for businesses that complete a full-service safety or health consultation.”

Oklahomans have a history of making this state great by putting their words into action and following through. Mark Costello, Labor Commissioner, is another example of an Oklahoman breaking new ground. He not only recognized the need for change, but he also put his own reputation, resources and efforts on the line, teaching through example that significant change starts with us.


justin brotton - Wednesday, June 01, 2011

By Bud Elder and Paul Fairchild

Oklahoma’s 16th Lieutenant Governor has a lot on his mind … lots of jobs and lots of business.

And, if his achievements as both private citizen and public official offer an insight into his level of success, Oklahomans have much to look forward to.

His heritage is impressive – he is the son of Norman Lamb, Enid attorney and 18-year state senator from the area. Until recently, Norman Lamb served the state as the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs under two gubernatorial administrations. Ironically, Norman Lamb was once a Republican candidate for the position his son now occupies.

After graduation from Enid High School, Todd Lamb played football at Louisiana Tech University. He then returned to Oklahoma State, earning a bachelor's degree, and subsequently a law degree from Oklahoma City University.

In 1993, Todd Lamb worked on the campaign staff of gubernatorial candidate Frank Keating. Upon Keating's election, Lamb worked alongside the governor for four years. During his time in the governor's office, Lamb traveled to all of Oklahoma's 77 counties, almost half the United States, and two foreign countries promoting Governor Keating's pro-growth economic agenda. Lamb served in the Keating Administration from 1994 until 1998.

Lamb’s next step as a public servant was to serve as a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. He was elected president of his Secret Service Academy class and graduated with special recognition. During his U.S. Secret Service tenure, Lamb investigated and made numerous arrests in the areas of counterfeiting, bank fraud, threats against the president and identity theft. His duties included domestic and international protection assignments during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

Lamb served as a site supervisor for George W. Bush's presidential campaign in 2000 and was, in early 2001, appointed to the national Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he received training and briefings at the CIA, FBI and Secret Service headquarters in Washington, D.C. He also served as an investigator post-9/11.

Todd Lamb was elected to his first term in the Oklahoma Senate on November 2, 2004 by the voters of Senate district 47, and in 2009 he became the first Republican Majority Floor Leader in state history.

With this impressive resume, Lt. Governor Lamb appears to have the necessary skills to take Oklahoma from the talking stage of job-creation into implementation.

"If another state has a healthy business climate, we have to understand what helped create that particular scenario,” he said. “Rhetoric and cheerleading won't do it – we need a business-friendly policy to move us forward.”

Comparisons to Texas form the core of Lamb’s stump speech, although he says the Sooner state should aim higher than their neighbor to the south.

“There's a very artificial barrier between our two states called the Red River. It sometimes is so low you can walk across it, but it’s a very artificial barrier to growth,” he said. “On both banks, the air and water are the same, as are the accents. But in the last few years, more private sector jobs were created in Texas than any other state. They also have the most Fortune 500 companies and the highest new inhabitant rate.”

Lamb feels that lower income tax rates, along with workers’ compensation reforms, are mandatory steps toward leveling the playing field with competitive states, including the Lone Star.

Lamb equates a lower personal income tax with the ability to lure out-of-state companies to Oklahoma, and convincing native companies that their future is here and not across, say, the Red River.

”Again, we must mention Texas, which has no income tax, and it creates more corporate jobs annually than any other state in the nation,” he said. “However, lowering income tax is a policy that should be pursued most carefully – Texas also has a $20 billion deficit.

Lamb says the current legislature has several ideas toward achieving this goal. According to Lamb, nine out of ten business owners point to high workmen’s compensation costs as the largest impediment to their growth.

“Workers’ compensation reform is mandatory for the Oklahoma of the future,” he said.

Lamb suggests that some of the reforms could include a managed, quick resolution of cases, yearly reviews of disability payments, and a rehabilitation system in place to get injured workers back on the job.

According to Lamb, these changes would immediately be helpful for Oklahoma’s small business community, a sector for which the Lt. Governor has been given official responsibilities.

"Governor Mary Fallin appointed me to the position of Small Business Advocate, a job she held when she was Lt. Governor,” he said. “I can tell these specific taxpayers that I will be their representative to the legislature and other state groups.”

Jarrod Shouse, state director of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, feels that Lamb has all the tools to be successful for the small businessman or woman.

“Todd Lamb not only had a solid, pro-small business voting record in the Senate, he has given us 100 percent over the last four years,” he said.

Lamb states that his convictions were developed from his role as a family man. He and his wife of 15 years, Monica, have two children, Griffin and Lauren.

“I want Oklahoma to be the state my children choose for their careers and families – not because they have to, but because they want to,” he said.

Reviews on Lamb’s early tenure have been very positive. Kenney Tilley, vice president of Business Retention, Expansion and Small Business, is very impressed with both Lamb’s demeanor and outlook.

“Todd has been very outspoken when it comes to removing red tape as it concerns business growth,” she said. “His telephone number and email address are freely given to those small business owners who wish to speak to him – he takes it all very seriously.”

“I recently saw the Lt. Governor speak at a statewide small business event,” Tilley continues. “He is that rare politician who listens more than talks. He really desires to make a difference.”

Lamb himself maintains a positive outlook, one he wants to share with all Oklahomans.

“I am an eternal optimist – I tell our native business owners and those from out of state that Oklahoma is on the cusp of a renaissance,” he said. That’s neither rhetoric nor a platitude – I truly believe we have the tools to make this state the most business-friendly in the country.” 

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