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Patrice Douglas Declines Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust CEO Position

Former Oklahoma Corporation Commission Member Patrice Douglas
Patrice Douglas
Former Oklahoma Corporation Commission Member Patrice Douglas

Former Edmond mayor Patrice Douglas has turned down the lead job at the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust that would have paid her $250,000 per year. The Oklahoman reports the position’s lucrative salary has generated criticism among elected officials.

"After much contemplation and consultation with my family and friends, I have decided the right decision for me and Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust is to allow them to continue their search for a new CEO," Douglas said. "I appreciate the support of the TSET board and many people in the public and private sectors. The words of encouragement were deeply appreciated, especially when the matter of hiring a CEO at TSET was unfortunately politicized. I stood ready and willing to fulfill the responsibilities of the job, but unfortunately, the TSET board had been informed that others will not permit this to occur."

Gov. Mary Fallin criticized the TSET board for the salary saying it was too large during a time the state faces budget crisis, and went against an executive order from last year that required approval from a cabinet secretary before new hires. Fallin also encouraged Secretary of Health Terry Cline to not sign off on the paperwork. The Oklahoman says the board is now reflecting on its next step.

"Our board believes it is prudent to continue focusing on the mission of TSET and work with organizations around the state to build a better and healthier Oklahoma," the board said. Before making the offer to Douglas, the board had received an opinion from an assistant attorney general that it had wide latitude in making hiring decisions and salary offers despite a state law that set a lower salary range and a hiring freeze put in place last year by Fallin.

Gov. Fallin said Douglas was qualified, and Douglas expressed regret the offer with the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust didn’t work out. According to the Associated Press, the TSET board used a hiring firm to seek out Douglas.

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