Primary Profiles: Attorney General Mike Hunter
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
One of the most controversial primary fights is between the leading Republican candidates for attorney general. While there are three candidates vying for the nomination, two are leading the pack; Attorney General Mike Hunter and Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond.
When former Attorney General Scott Pruitt left Oklahoma to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Governor Mary Fallin appointed her Secretary of State, and former first assistant Attorney General, Mike Hunter to fill the position.
Now, Hunter is asking voters to elect him to the office he's headed up for the last nearly year and a half.
“My principle obligation is to the taxpayers and the citizens of the state and that is my magnetic north,” Hunter said of his campaign.
In his little over a year in office, Hunter reprioritized the work of the Oklahoma Attorney General's office and moved resources around to focus more on criminal prosecutions and consumer protection.
“Almost 20 individuals involved in child porn; we broke up a publishing ring who was committing fraud on its customers, taking works from artists and musicians and then not getting them published; we've worked very hard keep the interest of the state advanced,” Hunter said of his accomplishments so far in office.
Most recently, Hunter announced a win for utility customers in the form of lower OG&E customers.
However, his relatively short time in office has not been without controversy. As AG, Hunter’s office was responsible for defending controversial legislation that was ultimately ruled unconstitutional.
“Everybody deserves their day in court including the legislature,” Hunter said.
While many attorneys may be able to pick their clients and cases, the Attorney General is elected to represent the state and deliver a defense of the governor and legislature.
“You have to respect the fact that Oklahoma law requires you to do a certain thing and I follow the law and we follow the law in that office,” Hunter said of his office’s defense of laws passed through the legislative process.
Hunter also inherited cases from his predecessor, including a lawsuit over the decision to keep the results of an audit about the Tar Creek superfund site. After continuing the fight to keep it sealed, Hunter ultimately decided to release the audit. He said four prosecutors had looked over the audit and determined there were no criminal charges possible from the audit’s findings.
“The Tar Creek issue had turned into such a distraction for our office, that after consulting with [State Auditor] Gary Jones, after consulting with the multi-county judge, we made a decision that it was important to get those records released and we did so,” Hunter said.
As Attorney General, Hunter also led the state's investigation via the multicounty grand jury into the Health Department's financial scandal.
The grand jury and Hunter ultimately decided no laws were broken and no one would be prosecuted.
“With regard to the Health Department it is important to note that none of the people that are in leadership roles are currently in leadership roles at the Health Department. I think we are all mad at what happened and we are mad at the poor decisions that were made, but just because you're mad at somebody doesn't mean that they're a criminal.”
Hunter also said that Oklahomans are not just electing him, but they are voting to keep his entire team in place, which had helped lead the charge to protect Oklahomans.