Lawyer is gone from Oklahoma attorney general's office after giving bad advice to commission

The assistant attorney general blamed for giving incorrect Open Meeting Act advice to to the Workers’ Compensation Commission no longer works for the attorney general and will no longer be advising the commission.
by Randy Ellis Modified: July 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm •  Published: July 31, 2014
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The assistant attorney general blamed for giving incorrect Open Meeting Act advice to the Workers’ Compensation Commission no longer works for the attorney general and will no longer be advising the commission.

“Ted Rossier is no longer employed at the attorney general’s office,” Aaron Cooper, spokesman for Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said in a terse statement Wednesday. “I can’t comment any further as this is a personnel issue.”

Rossier declined to discuss circumstances surrounding his leaving the office.

“I don’t care to comment,” he said.

The announcement came five days after the attorney general’s office issued a statement acknowledging that some of the advice given to the commission about the Open Meeting Act was wrong.

Meanwhile, The Oklahoman has learned that a report calling for Rossier’s firing and the termination of commission Executive Director Rick Farmer was sent Monday to Gov. Mary Fallin by two attorneys who served on Fallin’s Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform.

The report was authored by longtime workers’ compensation attorneys Bob Burke and Tim Cooley.

Burke, a former state secretary of commerce, has represented injured workers for 34 years and Cooley has represented employers and insurance companies for 37 years.

“The current general counsel should be replaced,” the report said. “It is apparent that his advice on the Open Meeting Act was wrong and caused great embarrassment for the commission. The attorney general can advise the commission on legal matters in the future and keep the commission out of trouble on such simple issues as obeying the Open Meeting Act.”

Continuing on, the report said, “the executive director should be replaced with a person with substantial experience in claims handling or administering a workers’ compensation delivery system.”

Contacted Wednesday, Farmer declined to comment on the portion of the report that called for his ouster as executive director.

About the report

In the report, Burke and Cooley rip the performance of Oklahoma’s new Workers’ Compensation Commission, which began work Feb. 1.

The commission was created by the Legislature to shift Oklahoma from a workers’ compensation court system to an administrative system.

“The new administrative workers’ compensation commission has failed...to substantially achieve any of its goals,” Burke and Cooley claim in the report.

They identified those failed goals as providing quicker resolutions to disputes between injured workers and employers, reducing litigation, and getting workers back to work quicker.

Administrative law judges employed by the commission have taken 30 days to issue some of their initial orders, while judges under the old court system normally issued orders in four to five days, the report complained.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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