Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter announces resignation
Mike Seals - May 26, 2021 11:14 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on Wednesday announced his resignation, citing “certain personal matters that are becoming public.”
In a statement released by his office, the 64-year-old Republican said he plans to step down June 1. In the statement, Hunter expressed concern that his personal issues could overshadow the work of his office.
“Regrettably, certain personal matters that are becoming public will become a distraction for this office,” Hunter said. “The office of attorney general is one of the most important positions in state government. I cannot allow a personal issue to overshadow the vital work the attorneys, agents and support staff do on behalf of Oklahoma.”
Although the statement did not describe the personal matter, Hunter filed for divorce from his wife, Cheryl, on Friday. The couple has been married for nearly 40 years and they have two adult children.
Hunter was appointed to the post in 2017 by then-Gov. Mary Fallin after Scott Pruitt, who was attorney general at the time, was tapped by former President Donald Trump to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hunter narrowly defeated Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond in a bruising GOP primary in 2018, winning by fewer than 300 votes, before coasting to an easy victory in the general election.
Hunter helped lead the state’s lawsuit against the makers of pharmaceuticals blamed for contributing to the opioid crisis, the first lawsuit of its kind in the nation, ultimately securing a $465 million order against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson. That ruling is being appealed.
Hunter’s resignation means Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt will name his replacement, allowing the governor to put an ally in the post. Stitt and Hunter, both Republicans, have occasionally clashed on various matters, including over Stitt’s decision to renegotiate the state’s gaming compacts with Native American tribes.
Stitt said in a statement that Hunter notified him Wednesday morning of his plan to step down.
“I know he is going through a difficult time and I wish him, his family, and the employees of his office well,” Stitt said.
In December, a multicounty grand jury led by Hunter’s office indicted Stitt’s secretary of digital transformation and technology, David Ostrowe, on one felony count of attempted bribery of an officer. Ostrowe is accused of attempting to bribe members of the Oklahoma Tax Commission. He has denied wrongdoing, and the case is pending in Oklahoma County.
And in April 2020, Hunter requested an investigative audit of the state Health Department over the agency’s spending of state-appropriated funds. At the time, Stitt said he was disappointed in Hunter’s request when the agency was “in the midst of responding to the most historic pandemic of our time.”
Hunter served as secretary of state and special legal counsel under Fallin until he was appointed attorney general.
Hunter also has served as secretary of the Commissioners of the Land Office, a $4 billion land and investment trust in Oklahoma. He previously served as secretary of state under former Gov. Frank Keating and was Keating’s chief liaison to the Legislature, the state judiciary and its congressional delegation.