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Oklahoma lawmaker really really really likes his cousin…

8:05 AM EDT on April 1, 2021

Back in August, we warned Oklahoma voters about a right-wing screwball by the name of Shane Jett.

At the time, he was just fired from his job with the Citizen Pottawatomie tribe and was involved in a bitter runoff election for Republican control of SD 17.

As they usually do, Oklahoma voters ignored our warnings and elected Jett back into office. Now, not surprisingly, he's found himself in the news for the wrong reasons after The Oklahoman learned he hired his loyal cousin to be his executive assistant.

Via The Oklahoman_:

An Oklahoma state senator hired his cousin to serve as his executive assistant, but then she stepped down after The Oklahoman inquired about whether the two were related.

For months, freshman Sen. Shane Jett, R-Shawnee, employed his cousin, TaRena Reece, as his assistant, which may be prohibited by state law.

In a statement, Jett confirmed Reece is his cousin and praised her work ethic.

“I worked with TaRena Reece for five years before coming to the Oklahoma State Senate," Jett wrote. "She is the best employee I have ever worked with and was my first choice to be my Senate Executive Assistant. She is intelligent, industrious, conscientious and has a tremendous work ethic. She is a quick study and has always exceeded my expectations.

"I would not part with her were it not for the prohibition of consanguinity. TaRena Reece is my cousin. I give her my highest recommendation.”

I have a lot of cousins. I like them all and think they're great people. That being said, I'll be the first to admit that I don't like them nearly as much a Shane Jett likes his. Seriously, tone down the praise dude. You're embarrassing all of us here.

After doing some digging, The Oklahoman_ learned that Jett didn't violate any state law by hiring his cousin to work for him. Either way, The Oklahoma Senate quickly changed its policy to prevent future legislative incest:

The leader of the Oklahoma Senate has updated the chamber's employment policies after a state senator employed his cousin as his executive assistant.

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat told reporters Thursday that Senate policy now prevents senators or staff from directly supervising a family member, regardless of how closely they are related.

That's probably a good idea. Most Capitol staffers already have to worry about being sexually harassed by Oklahoma lawmakers. The last thing we want is for them to have to worry about being sexually harassed by extended family members, too.

Even though the optics of hiring your cousin and then enthusiastically praising her when your caught already looks bad, Jett – a guy who once proposed adding an exclamation point to the Oklahoma flag – doubled down:

Jett defended himself in a statement to the local Fox News affiliate.

"I thought I had inadvertently violated hiring practices but, upon further review, it's clear I did not," he said. "State statute says we may not hire relatives within the third degree. However, based on a standing Attorney General opinion, cousins are not defined as first, second, or third degree relatives."

In response to a request for comment, Jett criticized The Oklahoman and blamed the newspaper for Reece's termination.

"Because of your slipshod reporting, an exceedingly competent Executive Assistant (and mother) is out of job," he wrote in an email. Reece was no longer employed in the position before The Oklahoman published a story about her relation to Jett.

In emails, Jett has demanded The Oklahoman issue a "full correction" of its initial story on his relationship to his former executive assistant.

I like Shane Jett's use of the word "Slipshod." In fact, that's the same word I'd use to describe a creepy lawmaker who hires his cousin to work for him.

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