The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 11, 2014

Lamb will seek re-election to lieutenant governor’s post

CNHI News Service
Enid News and Eagle

DUNCAN, Okla. — Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a Republican Enid native, made his formal announcement for re-election recently and made a campaign swing through Stephens County. He stopped by the Duncan Banner to a chat with news editor Steve Olafson. Here’s how it went:

Question: What are your links to Duncan and the Stephens County area, and what your thoughts are on the issues here and in southwest Oklahoma?

Answer: Stephens County is important, and Duncan is important. I’m not just saying that cause I’m sitting at the Duncan Banner. I mean that. That is proven by the fact I come to Duncan often. I come to Stephens County often. I go to every county every year, but Duncan and Stephens County, that’s one of those communities you continue come back to visit. Because in the history of Oklahoma, there’s been so much productivity and economic development and growth here ... I come here recreationally. We have a little girl who’s an athlete and we’ve been here for athletic events for her numerous times. As a matter of fact, I know how to order at Dave’s Cave, among other things. Our first campaign fundraiser in 2013, to kick off this campaign cycle, was at Chisholm Trail Museum. ... My dad was born in Canute. My point is, western Oklahoma, southwest Oklahoma, northwest Oklahoma, everything west of I-35, that’s my heritage and history, where I come from, where my family comes from.

Q: Are you going to be at the turkey hunt?

A: Of course. I’ve got my name on it, so I better be at the turkey hunt. Parenthetically, I’ve not got a turkey yet. So it’s a little bit of a sore spot for me ...

Q: What are the key state issues on the table now at the Legislature and what’s your view of them?

A: The next issue on the horizon is unemployment compensation. Unemployment insurance is a very important safety net for those that are in a transition period through no fault of their own, but too often we’re incentivizing individuals not to work. It’s a very expensive system for our employers. I’m talking about business owners with five employees, 15 employees — our small business mom and pop shops all around the state. According to our Small Business Administration, over 97 percent of all our employers are small business employers. That’s the backbone of our economy ...Workers’ comp we’ve addressed, I think the next big business issue is unemployment compensation.

Q: What needs to be done?

A: One of the biggest challenges to workers’ comp was fraud. That’s the analogous point to unemployment compensation. There’s fraud in the system. I’ve heard anecdote after anecdote as I’ve traveled around. I’ve had town hall meetings in banks, career techs, sale barns. You name a venue, I’ve had a town hall meeting there. So it doesn’t matter, urban or rural, south of 40, north of 40, east of 35, west of 35, I hear about fraud in the unemployment compensation system. Incentivizing people not to work. Employers have attempted to hire individuals back they’ve had to lay off, often, I’ve heard, they’re incentivized not to come back to work because of the benefits they’re receiving. The problem with that, the individual who really needs that safety net for that transitional period, they’re receiving less benefits and they’re being preyed upon by other individuals who are gaming the system. And it’s very expensive for business.

Q: On a personal note, you worked in politics a number of years with Gov. Keating. But then you left and became a Secret Service agent. What led to that decision and how did it shape you?

A: Like a lot of young boys, maybe girls, too, I had a romanticized view of law enforcement. I played a lot of cops and robbers as a kid in Enid. We lived by a creek, so we played a lot of cops and robbers. Frank Keating, who I worked for, is a former FBI agent. We had a very good relationship, a very close relationship. He encouraged me one day to leave his office. I thought, ‘What have I done?’ And he said no, I want to encourage you to really expand your horizon and spread your wings. You’re a young man. You need to go out and really challenge yourself. He used the words ‘stretch yourself.’ So I said what would you do. He said look into some federal law enforcement ... I was very intrigued by the mission to protect the president of the United States ... The basic tenet I learned was attention to detail ... It was a great career.

Q: Why did you leave it?

A: My family. In 2000, I was a site supervisor for George W. Bush. I had primarily been a criminal investigator, I had a lot of Clinton assignments overseas, but in 2000, I became a site supervisor for George W. Bush’s campaign. Our son was born in 2000. His birthday is March 23. At the end of year 2000, I looked at my travel log, I had been with George W. Bush, whom I admire, more than I had my own son. ...We were in Erie, Pa., on a campaign stop, and he crawled for the first time. You know, everything’s a big deal with your first child. First crawl is a big deal. So my wife told me he crawled, and I go downstairs for breakfast, and many of the senior agents I was working with — I was the youngest one on the trip — I tell ’em, ‘Hey, guys, I’m disappointed, my son crawled,’ and around the table, one by one, they all go, ‘Oh, Todd, you’re gonna miss the first touchdown, the first home run. If you ever have a daughter, you’re gonna miss the dance recitals.’ You kinda know that going in, but it’s different once you have a child. So I was in Erie, Pa., when I had that epiphany. A lot of wonderful men and women are in the Secret Service, they make that sacrifice. But for me, that’s the reason I left.

Q: How many years were you in the service?

A: Just over four. ... My last year in the Secret Service was interesting. Prior to 9-11, I was appointed to a national joint counter terrorism task force ... I remember getting briefed on al-Qaida in Langley, Va., at CIA headquarters. It was almost theoretical. Then literally, it was months, maybe weeks, that 9-11 occurred. So it was a very surreal and interesting time to be not just in the Secret Service but on the joint counter terrorism task force.

Q: Do you want to be governor?

A: Gov. Fallin will be re-elected in my opinion, and she should be re-elected, but after she is term-limited by our constitution, I’ll take a very serious, long, hard look at that office.