Gov-elect Kevin Stitt on Wednesday announced the appointment of Tulsa attorney and a senior official in the EPA, Kenneth Wagner to be secretary of energy and the environment.
Wagner, 53 has close ties to Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma Attorney General and became EPA Administrator before he was forced to resign after being accused of numerous ethics violations.
How close are they? it was Wagner who registered the shell company used when Pruitt bought the home of an Oklahoma City lobbyist at a significant discount. The April story by the New York Times was one of the many allegations that led to growing criticism of Pruitt.
The Times also reported that when Pruitt was Attorney General, he awarded more than $60,000 in contracts to Wagner’s law firm of Latham, Wagner Steele and Lehman based in Tulsa.
Wagner was also part of the Oklahoma City RedHawks minor league baseball team with Pruitt and was treasurer of Pruitt’s political action committee.
“Kevin was connected to Ken Wagner because of his strong reputation as an attorney in Tulsa,” said Donelle Harder with Stitt’s administration. “Never did it cross our mind his political history, because all we’ve ever heard as we began exploring people for this positions was about Ken’s strong reputation, not only with environmental groups, but also working neighboring states.”
As secretary, Wagner will not only be a member of the governor’s cabinet but will oversee the environmental departments such as the State Environmental Quality Board and the Water Resources Board.