OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate Rules Committee has blocked Gov. Mary Fallin's nomination of an Oklahoma City attorney to the state Election Board, drawing the ire of Democrats who contend it is because he is openly gay.
The committee chairman, Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, said Wednesday that the sexual orientation of former Democratic Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth is not an issue. Johnson said he thought it was inappropriate to appoint a former elected official to a post where he may have to rule on issues connected to a former opponent.
“If the governor appointed any other former elected official to the state Election Board, we would have the same exact concerns on whoever that individual might be,” said Johnson, who sought to run against Roth for a spot on the Corporation Commission in 2008 but was defeated in the GOP primary.
Democrats were quick to point out that the committee Wednesday approved another Election Board member, Republican Jerry Buchanan of Tulsa, who has been active for years in the Republican Party and currently serves as the Oklahoma GOP's 1st District vice chairman.
State Sen. Connie Johnson, who sponsored Roth's nomination in the Senate, accused Senate Republican leaders of hypocrisy and prejudice. She said the interests of women, gays and minorities are not being represented by Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature.
“All of these groups have continually been excluded by this Republican leadership, and here's another example of it,” said Johnson, D-Oklahoma City.
Roth, who was selected by the governor from a list of nominees forwarded to her by the state Democratic Party, has been serving on the Election Board for several months and said he was disappointed the Senate blocked his nomination.
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