Friday, November 12, 2010

Costello Names Jim Marshall Chief Of Labor Staff; Appointment May Generate Controversy

Jim Marshall
Republican Labor Commissioner-elect Mark Costello disclosed in an email today that he has chosen controversial Jim Marshall as his chief of staff. The move may engender more controversy given Marshall's relationship to foes of former Commissioner Brenda Reneau, also a Republican.

Wrote Costello, "I have selected the former seven-year Chief of Staff to Commissioner Brenda Reneau, Jim Marshall, who provided strategic guidance to her successful campaigns resulting in her 1994 upset election over Commissioner Renfro and her 1998 record setting re-election.

"Jim’s many years of professional Right to Work advocacy and administrative experience provides the skill set necessary to advance significant reforms that I seek in Oklahoma government. Jim’s experience also includes being one of two investigators, who in 1995, exposed fraud in Davis-Bacon wage rates that resulted in the U.S. DOL rescinding their wage rates; thus, saving the initial MAPS project millions of dollars. Jerry Regier, Health and Human Services Secretary to Gov. Keating, asked Jim to join his management team in the clean up of fraud and ghost employees at the Oklahoma State Department of Health in 2000."

However, Marshall's relationship with former Commissioner Reneau did not end on the best of terms, as Pat McGuigan reported on CapitolBeatOK several weeks ago:

In a recent interview, Reneau told CapitolBeatOK she had “cordial” conversations with Costello earlier this year. However, she asked him about “scuttlebutt” in Republican circles indicating that Jim Marshall, a former aide, was in charge of the Costello campaign.

In reply, Reneau said Costello told her Marshall was “a good friend” but was not playing a role in his campaign, save as a personal advisor.

Marshall left the Labor Department during Reneau’s tenure, and later went to work for Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart. Marshall also is an ally of Randy Terrill, now a controversial Republican state representative embroiled in a corruption investigation by the Oklahoma County District Attorney. Terrill supported Fields in the 2006 campaign. [And has been a bitter foe of Reneau, for whom he once worked.] 

Reneau is concerned that Marshall’s return to the agency could negatively effect morale and further erode what she calls “the important work” there.

Separately from Reneau, CapitolBeatOK asked Costello last spring about Marshall’s rumored involvement. Costello said Marshall had no daily role in the campaign. However, CapitolBeatOK has learned that one of the most respected and experienced radio advertising brokers in the state was ousted from the Costello campaign this summer – and that the message was delivered by Jim Marshall, on Costello’s behalf.

Costello defeated incumbent Democrat Lloyd Fields.  

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