MIDWEST CITY — Mary Fallin's pledge as governor to create new businesses had one immediate result. By the time Fallin took her oath of office Monday, her husband had resigned from the law firm he has been with for nearly 20 years and started his own practice.
Wade Christensen said Friday he branched out on his own because clients for his previous law firm, Day, Edwards, Propester & Christensen, included the University of Oklahoma and CompSource Oklahoma, the state's workers' compensation agency. He wants to avoid anyone claiming favoritism or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
“Basically, I decided that in order to avoid any conflict ... I felt that this was the best and safest way to avoid any appearance of impropriety and any impropriety at all,” Christensen said while attending his youngest son's wrestling match at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City. “I'll continue to represent private employees and private small and large businesses.”
Christensen, who specializes in workers' compensation cases, said he will continue to represent clients not affiliated in any way with the state. Christensen last week established a professional limited liability corporation, Christensen and Associates.
“Right now, my living won't be as good as it used to be,” he said. “I'm going to be back out hitting the streets looking for clients. Giving up the clients I gave up is a substantial part of my practice.”
Christensen said his office will be near his old firm, which will continue to have Christensen in the name because his brother, Clay, is with the firm. The offices are in the Oklahoma Tower, 210 Park Ave.
“We just want to make sure we do the right thing and so far I think we've gone beyond what is doing right,” he said.
Christensen said he asked several attorneys to look into ethical and legal questions about his representing OU and CompSource while his wife is governor. Some opinions came back stating there was no problem as long as the firm didn't take new cases involving OU and CompSource.
“Arguably I could have stayed with the firm as an of-counsel relationship, but there's still some gray areas,” Christensen said. “I have to do what I think is right.”
Christensen, 56, said he is adapting to his role of being the spouse of the state's chief executive. He, Fallin and his youngest son, Alex, a senior at Deer Creek High School, are still in the process of moving into the Governor's Mansion.
As first gentleman, Christensen said, his main role is to help and support his wife as she tackles the duties of governor.
“I really look forward to what she can do for the state of Oklahoma with the help of the people and the Legislature,” he said.
Eventually, he said he likely will promote various causes.
“If I was to guess right now as to what I may end up doing, it may end up being something to promote agriculture, to promote rural Oklahoma since that's where I'm from,” said Christensen, who grew up on a farm near Thomas.
“It may have something to do with sports,” said Christensen, who played football and basketball in high school. “Not only did I play sports, but all my kids played sports.”