Like her predecessors, Fallin impacts policy through appointment power

 Oklahoma is known for its highly populist tradition, including a plethora of commissions, boards and other entities with powers of governance – with consequent diminishment of direct executive powers. It is nonetheless true that governors of the Sooner State can have impressive cumulative effect through the appointment power.

Governor Mary Fallin has already made a few hundred appointments to important arms of state government. Some of her choices are less visible than others.

This spring, Fallin announced the nomination of Dawn Cash to serve as one of three commissioners overseeing the Oklahoma Tax Commission. At the time she was named, Cash was director of the commission’s Tax Policy division. She had previously worked as the commission’s senior deputy general counsel, and in private practice.

Cash has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and her juris doctorate from the University of Tulsa. She lives in Oklahoma City.

In mid-February Fallin chose Tom Lee as district attorney for Logan and Payne counties (the Ninth Judicial District). Lee replaced Robert Hudson, who resigned from the D.A.’s post when he joined the office of Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

He served previously as a Stillwater police officer, and with the Highway Patrol. He has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University and a law degree from Oklahoma City University.

In late March, Fallin appointed one of Oklahoma City’s best known citizens as a Regent for the University of Oklahoma.

Clay Bennett is a principal owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a franchise in the National Basketball Association, and president of Dorchester Capital, an investment firm.

Bennett — chairman of the State Fair and the Industrial Industries Authority — is a past chairman of the city Chamber of Commerce, the state Heritage Association and other organizations. He has been active for many years in leadership of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and Casady School. 

He and his wife, Louise, are both known for involvement in charitable causes.

On Jan. 31, Fallin named Dr. Terry Cline, commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Health, as her Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services. In doing so, Fallin designated him as her liaison to health and human service agencies.

Cline was named health commissioner by the Board of Health in 2009. Earlier in his career, he served in the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He has been a federal health administrator, a local youth guidance center director, and a staff psychologist at a local hospital in New England.

Cline was formerly a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. An Ardmore native, his bachelor’s degree is from OU. At Oklahoma State University, Cline earned both a master’s and a doctorate in clinical psychology.