WASHINGTON — Rob Wallace moved to Poteau after graduating from the University of Oklahoma law school in 1988 because he wanted to live in a small town. And after a year in private practice, he decided to work for the district attorney.
“I liked trying jury trials and the best place you could do that was the prosecutor's office,'' Wallace said in an interview. “It's a job where every day you wake up feeling like you could make a difference for public safety.”
Wallace, 49, a Democrat, eventually won the post of district attorney for Le Flore and Latimer counties, serving from 1999 until 2004. He also worked for the U.S. attorney's office in Muskogee, focusing on drug traffickers and organized crime. Wallace was considered for the post of U.S. attorney in the Muskogee district but didn't get the nomination from the White House.
He has taken some detours into private ventures that have been used against him in his race for the 2nd District congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Dan Boren.
One of those ventures involved importing gems from Eastern Europe after the breakup of the Soviet Union; the failure of the businesses resulted in an investor lawsuit that named Wallace, though he was dropped from the suit after a settlement was reached.
In another matter, Wallace had to pay for part of an equipment lease for which he had cosigned after the owner of a mining company defaulted on it.
Wallace said his opponents had brought up the old business matters to distract from real issues.
People want to talk about jobs and education and protecting Social Security, Medicare and eastern Oklahoma's water, he said.
Wallace has offered a detailed jobs plan based on tax credits for small business, increased use of natural gas, helping veterans find work and targeted aid for education and infrastructure.
Ultimately, he said, the voters want to support someone who shares their values.
“They want somebody that's one of them,'' he said.
Wallace filed a financial disclosure report with the clerk of the House of Representatives that showed assets valued between $201,000 and $515,000. Assets and income can be reported in broad ranges so the forms are not accurate statements of net worth.
Wallace's report covered the period from Jan. 1, 2011 to May 15, 2012. It showed that he earned a combined salary of $127,361 last year from the U.S. attorney's office in Muskogee and the district attorney's office in McAlester. This year, he earned $26,712 from the district attorney's office but no longer works there.
He listed two variable annuities and one whole life policy as assets. His debts, valued between $25,000 and $65,000, include a student loan for one of his children.