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Hunter Approves Stitt's Conflict Of Interest Plan

Kevin Stitt, candidate for the Republican nomination for Oklahoma Governor, speaks in Guthrie, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.
Sue Ogrocki

Attorney General Mike Hunter approved Gov. Stitt’s conflict of interest plan late last week. Stitt submitted his plan in early January, focusing mostly on separating himself from Gateway Mortgage Group, the lending company he founded in 2000.

Stitt resigned from his company last year. Soon the company will become Gateway First Bank, following an approved merger with Oklahoma’s Farmer's Exchange Bank.

Stitt’s plan says he will not have any governing role in the new entity.

In a press release from March 15, Attorney General Hunter said Stitt will be able to appoint members of the Oklahoma Banking Board, the body that governs the state agency responsible for regulating local banks, credit unions, trust companies, and savings associations. In addition to Stitt distancing himself from his company while he serves as governor, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will examine Gateway Mortgage Group annually, a responsibility that usually switches from state and federal regulators year to year. Hunter also noted banking appointees are subject to Senate confirmation.

But Stitt and his family’s finances stretch well beyond banking, including investments in oil and gas, real estate, and construction, as well as a charitable foundation that donates primarily to religious causes. Stitt did not release his tax returns during the 2018 campaign, but a required filing with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission from mid-February revealed close to 200 assets held by the family across the state.

According to Stitt’s plan, James Redman, who will serve as a board member of the soon-to-be Gateway First Bank, will also manage the trust with Stitt’s assets.

Hunter said if lawmakers were to pass any measures solely affecting the Stitt’s financial interests, it would be Gov. Stitt’s job to issue a veto. Such legislation would violate “the Oklahoma Constitution's prohibitions on special laws and the granting of exclusive privileges to specific associations, corporations, or individuals,” Hunter said in the press release.

Caroline produced Capitol Insider and did general assignment reporting from 2018 to 2019. She joined KGOU after a stint at Marfa Public Radio, where she covered a wide range of local and regional issues in far west Texas. Previously, she reported on state politics for KTOO Public Media in Alaska and various outlets in Washington State.
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