Governor's husband may do legal work for OU, ethics commissioners rule

Members of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission say ethics rules do not prohibit Gov. Mary Fallin's husband Wade Christensen from providing legal services to either CompSource, the state's workers' compensation agency, or the University of Oklahoma.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: November 18, 2011
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The governor's husband, an attorney, may do legal work for the state's largest university or represent the state's workers' compensation agency, the state Ethics Commission ruled Thursday.

The interpretation of the ethics rules by commissioners was unanimous.

It mirrors an opinion released two months ago by the state attorney general's office.

Gov. Mary Fallin asked for both reviews.

When Fallin took office this year, her husband, Wade Christensen, had already resigned from the law firm he had been with for nearly 20 years and started his own practice.

He plans on continuing with his current practice, Christensen & Associates, a spokeswoman for Christensen said Thursday.

Christensen, who specializes in workers' compensation cases, said earlier 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 wanted to avoid claims of favoritism or a conflict of interest.

Legal work allowed

Ethics commissioners determined that the state's ethics rules do not prohibit Christensen from providing legal services to either CompSource or OU.

“My number one priority is to ensure that all of the work that we are doing, or might do in the future, is legal and ethical in every regard,” Christensen said. “I am happy to say that today's ethics decision allows my firm to resume work with two important clients, OU and CompSource Oklahoma.”

The earlier attorney general's opinion states that the state constitution prohibits a governor's spouse from receiving any payment from public funds, but CompSource does not receive public funds. Public funds that OU receives don't come directly from the state budget prepared by the Legislature, according to the opinion.



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