Skip to Content
Everything Else

Feuding Politicians Scramble to Place Blame in Oklahoma’s Anti-ESG Debacle…

Who’s ready for another episode of "As the Oklahoma legal and political ecosystem turns!”

Over the past year or so, we’ve told you about a costly, ill-conceived, solve-nothing law our pandering legislators passed that let State Treasurer Todd Russ – an unqualified oil industry lemming and political opportunist  – ban and boycott certain banks and financial institutions from doing business with the state if they “discriminate” against oil companies by offering certain ESG investment products.

Because the law violates the pesky part of the state constitution that requires “public pensions be managed for the sole purpose of benefiting retirees” – and not for the sole purpose of benefiting conservative politicians looking to pander to oil industry executives, right-wing yahoos, and other Derplahomans – a lawsuit was quickly filed challenging the bill. 

As a result of that lawsuit, an Oklahoma judge recently issued an injunction that prevents the law from being enforced:

A judge in Oklahoma blocked a state law that prohibits state pension systems from contracting with companies that limit investment in the oil and gas industry.

Oklahoma County District Court Judge Sheila Stinson on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law after finding retiree Don Keenan is likely to succeed in his lawsuit filed last year alleging the law violates the state constitution and is too vaguely written...

In her ruling, Stinson said the state constitution requires retirement funds be managed for the exclusive benefit of their beneficiaries, but the law appears aimed at countering certain political agendas and to help the oil and gas sector. Stinson also said the law contains conflicting and unclear definitions for key terms.

That’s neat. It would have been cool, though, if the judge could have blocked it sooner. You know, before it cost our state $150,000,000 dollars

Since the unconstitutional law is popular with the Derplahoman voting base, neither Attorney General Gentner Drummond nor State Treasurer Todd Russ could come out and say the courts got it right. 

Instead, they’ve had to engage in a political fight to blame the other side for the law’s failure.  

The political fighting actually started back when the lawsuit was first filed. 

To represent the state, Russ hired Oklahoma attorney Cheryl Plaxico.

This was notable, because she’s the ex-wife of former Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter – a.k.a. the legal mastermind who squeaked by Drummond in the 2018 AG’s race, only to resign from office after we were first to report he was getting a divorce and leaving Cheryl for insurance commission attorney Kim Bailey.

Sadly for Plaxico, she’s going to have to look to other agencies for state-funded billable hours. 

Days after the court blocked the law, Drummond announced via press release that he had fired her firm and that he had “extreme disappointment” in Russ. 

Expressing extreme disappointment with state Treasurer Todd Russ and the treasurer’s hand-picked legal counsel, Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced today he is firing the outside attorney and removing Russ from any decision-making authority in the lawsuit defending Oklahoma’s anti-ESG (environmental, social and governance) law.

“It is extremely disappointing that the counsel hired by Treasurer Russ was unable to secure a favorable ruling in defense of Oklahoma’s anti-ESG law,” Drummond said. “Because of this failure, the law is now on hold and at risk of being struck down entirely. Oklahomans deserve better.”

I disagree with Drummond. Until Oklahomans learn to vote better and don’t elect morons who pass unconstitutional laws, we really don’t deserve better. 

Drummond said he had initially chosen a separate firm to serve as outside counsel on the matter but deferred to Russ after the treasurer insisted on selecting his own attorney to defend the law. The Attorney General said he now regrets extending that professional courtesy.

“Treasurer Russ was insistent that he be allowed to choose his own counsel to defend the lawsuit, and I acquiesced,” said Drummond. “No longer will I allow professional courtesy to influence my decisions on this matter. Effective immediately, I have terminated Treasurer Russ’s hand-picked counsel and removed the treasurer from any decision-making role in the lawsuit. My office will handle all elements of the case moving forward.”

Although some of his views may be just as insane and quacky as any other conservative Oklahoma politician, I love how Gentner Drummond blazes his own path and isn’t afraid to throw a political punch. It makes my job so much more fun and entertaining!

Following Gentner’s press release, Russ released one of his own. Tersely titled “Treasurer Russ Responds to Drummond,” he claims that he asked Gentner to take on the unwinnable lawsuit and that Gentner declined:

Before selecting counsel to represent the Treasurer, the first request was to Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office. After offering the case to the AG, he was informed by Trebor Worthen, Chief of Staff to the AG, that he was declining to take case, but would recommend outside counsel. The Treasurer again personally approached Drummond to be his defender for the lawsuit. However, his office only engaged in recommending a different choice in counsel. At which time, the Treasurer selected his own outside counsel per his right through the 20i process. 

The Treasurer stated, “When asking the Attorney General to take my case, he refused. So, I was left with no other choice but to choose who I was most comfortable representing me. My constitutional office as the State Treasurer makes me party to the lawsuit, and therefore I don’t believe my decision-making authority can be removed. Certainly, I am disappointed with the outcome but have several facts for appeal. I had hoped to have the Attorney General as my defender all along.”

After Russ's release, Drummond went digging through his email receipts to show that Russ is a liar. 

He then gave them to the Tulsa World:

OKLAHOMA CITY — An email sent from Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond to Treasurer Todd Russ last November supports the AG’s assertion that he didn’t decline a request to represent the Treasurer’s Office in a lawsuit over Oklahoma’s Energy Discrimination Elimination Act.

The AG’s Office sent a copy of an email to the Tulsa World on Friday afternoon after Gov. Kevin Stitt commented on the case during his weekly press conference. The governor said Drummond’s decision to fire Plaxico seemed “odd” considering that the treasurer had asked the AG to represent him and had been turned down.

The email, which reflects that it was sent on Nov. 28 from Drummond to Russ with several others in both offices copied, indicates that the AG’s Office accepted the request for legal representation but engaged separate outside counsel, the office of McAfee & Taft, and advised that a move by the treasurer to retain Plaxico would be “ill-timed.””

First of all, if you’re still reading and following this kind of boring stuff, I’d like to thank you for sticking around.

Here’s a quick video to keep you entertained: 

To get back to the boring stuff, here’s a recap of where we are:

1. Oklahoma passes costly unconstitutional bill that’s popular with right-wing morons.

2. Neither State Treasurer nor Attorney General want to defend the bill, because they know it won’t hold up in the courts, and then they’ll have to take the blame by association. 

3. State Treasurer gets stuck with the lawsuit, so he ignores the AG’s advice and passive-aggressively hires the ex-wife of AG’s biggest rival to represent the state. 

4. State loses lawsuits. AG fires rival’s ex-wife and admonishes State Treasurer. 

5. State Treasurer issues press release saying AG didn’t want the case.  

6. AG provides email receipts to media showing - and basically says - State Treasurer is a liar.

Got all that? Good!

Even though it appears that Russ lost the blame game in this political battle, he isn’t going quietly into the good night. 

He’s now using his connections with the “State Financial Officers Foundation” to make it look like Gentner is in the pockets of Black Rock:

Here's a snippet from the article:

Tonight, Oklahoma Attorney General Genter Drummond announced that he is taking control of Treasurer Todd Russ’s case against BlackRock. However, documents obtained by the American Accountability Foundation show that his actions tonight are motivated, not by the best interest of Oklahomans, but by a close relationship with Blackrock and their lobbyists. Put simply, Drummond does not want to take over to win the case, he wants to take over so that he can tank it and protect BlackRock. 

While Drummond claims in public to stand against ESG, these documents show him praising and working closely with BlackRock, the champions of ESG, behind closed doors. Drummond has extensive communications with BlackRock official Mark McCombe and lobbyist Pat McFerron of CMA Strategies, which represents BlackRock.

Yep, as a result of being bested by Gentner, Russ is using warped rhetoric and flimsy, connect-the-dots distortion to paint Gentner as a fan of woke investing. Even though Gentner claims he’s for the unconstitutional law, oh well, I guess you can’t blame Russ for trying. 

Anyway, I’ve spent way too much time writing this article so I should probably wrap it up and share another random video that shouldn’t be funny but is:

I guess we’ll continue to follow this story and provide updates on the efforts of ranking members of the Oklahoma GOP to violate the Oklahoma constitution and blame others when they fail. 

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised. 

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter