During the past four years, historical ice was broken in
Oklahoma politics _ although it's melting now.
Serving simultaneously in statewide office were three women:
State Treasurer Claudette Henry, Attorney General Susan Loving
and Insurance Commissioner Cathy Weatherford. They were the first
females to serve in each of those offices.
The breakthrough is melting because none will be back next
year, due to unique circumstances. Henry was felled in the August
Republican primary election, and personal reasons led to Loving's
and Weatherford's choices not to run.
Henry's and Loving's terms of office could be called
"atypical," to say the least. How many state treasurers have had
their deputy accused of scheming to defraud Oklahoma of $6
million through irregular securities trading, followed up by
former employees sifting through their garbage in an attempt to
find personal dirt to use against them? It happened to Claudette
A black cloud seemed to dog Henry through much of her term.
Starting out as a Republican in a thicket of Democrats, she was
outnumbered and outflanked in legislative matters. Then the
trading fiasco broke, and she was never quite able to divorce
herself from that whole deal.
How many attorneys general have conducted an investigation of
the campaign finances of the governor who appointed them? It
happened to Susan Loving.
If observers thought the investigation of her benefactor would
be merely perfunctory, then they severely underestimated Loving.
Working with the Oklahoma County district attorney, her office
participated in a very long and tedious study of Gov. David
Walters' 1990 campaign funds. Last October, Walters pleaded
guilty to a misdemeanor campaign law violation for encouraging a
contributor to give $13,500 more than the $5,000 allowed by law.
He decided not to run for re-election.
In exchange for the plea, eight felony counts against him
handed down by a multicounty grand jury were dismissed.
That plea bargain generated a great deal of emotion from
people who either thought Loving caved in and was too soft on the
governor, or thought the investigation was much ado about
nothing, a persecution of the state's chief executive.
Loving, appointed by Walters in 1991, said she decided not to
run for election because she anticipated that the investigation
and plea agreement would be big campaign issues. Educating the
public on the reasoning that went into her actions would have
taken much time and physical energy, she said, "and I was out of