Oklahoma’s recently elected statewide officeholders will be sworn in on the State Capitol steps today starting at 11:30 a.m. 

Among them is Gov. Kevin Stitt, who begins his second and final four-year term upon taking the oath. Governors have traditionally offered a short inaugural speech peppered with hints on their policy priorities and how they intend to govern. Expect more detail from Stitt’s State of the State address on Feb. 6. 

A weekend of festivities, including inaugural balls at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Friday and the Stride Banker Center in Enid on Saturday preceded today’s inauguration. Lawmakers, donors and supporters will gather for a final ball tonight at the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. 

A mix of corporate and individual donors fund the celebrations. Stitt’s 2019 inaugural committee raised $2.4 million, more than twice what former Gov. Mary Fallin generated following her 2014 victory. Tulsa-based QuikTrip was the top donor to Stitt’s first inaugural committee, pitching in $100,000. 

The 2023 inaugural committee website credits more than five dozen corporate sponsors, ranging from Tyson Foods and Boeing to the Bank of Western Oklahoma and Chisholm Broadband. 

The contributions have raised concern among some good government advocates, who told Oklahoma Watch in 2019 that unlimited inaugural contributions could increase the likelihood of money corrupting politics. 

Oklahoma requires documentation of inaugural committee donors. We likely won’t know the full scope of who donated and how much until mid-summer. Ethics commission rules don’t require the report to be submitted until six months after the fact. 

We’ll keep an eye out for that report. Check the Oklahoma Watch Twitter feed for updates on today’s inauguration. 

Have a story idea or tip? Don’t hesitate to reach me at kross@Oklahomawatch.org. I’d also encourage you to take our brief survey, which asks questions about what you want to see accomplished in the legislature and stories you’d like to see us cover. 

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What I’m Reading This Week

  • Bill Aims to Stop Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities: Oklahoma is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment in public school classrooms. Analyses show that the state is one of a dwindling number with a law allowing educators to physically discipline some children with disabilities. House Bill 1208 by Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, would prohibit the practice.  [CNHI]
  • Key Details, Questions as Gentner Drummond Becomes Attorney General: During his campaigns for attorney general, Drummond has expressed frustration with how the state’s top law enforcement office has not acted swiftly and sternly on matters of alleged public corruption. [NonDoc]
  • Congressman-elect Josh Brecheen Among Those Blocking McCarthy Speakership: In a written statement, Brecheen said McCarthy would have to embrace  “transformative rule changes” to decrease government spending in order to gain his vote. [Tulsa World]

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