June 12, 2019The Journal Record |
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh abruptly resigned Wednesday during a Board of Corrections meeting over what he cited as the board having a different set of ideas from him.
“We heard that he left the board meeting and resigned abruptly. We’ll make sure the transition is smooth and we don’t disrupt any services there,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said during a press conference. “We are bringing new people into these boards and we’re bringing new thoughts into the management of state agencies.”
The meeting went over several major topics, including the appointment of Sharon McCoy as warden of the Jess Dunn Correctional Center, Natalie Cooper as warden of the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center and Blaine Nelson as warden of the Jim E. Hamilton Correctional Center.
Stitt signed legislation in March giving the governor five spots on the nine-member board. Stitt used the legislation to appoint Reginald Hines, a former department employee from Oklahoma City; Rodney Thornton, a Norman construction company owner; Steven Harpe of Broken Arrow, chief information officer at Gateway Mortgage Group, the company founded and owned by Stitt and his immediate family; Betty Gesell of Bixby; and Kathryn LaFortune, former Tulsa first lady.
“They ask a lot of questions and before I put somebody on the board I expect them to be digging into the details, I want them questioning the directors and holding them accountable,” Stitt said. “I’m very proud of my board if they are asking tough questions. That’s what I want them there to do.”
Stitt said that while he was just recently made aware of the resignation, his administration will go through a nationwide search as part of the process to find a replacement.
Allbaugh, who previously served as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President George W. Bush, was hired as interim director of the DOC in January 2016 following the departure of former Director Robert Patton. Allbaugh became the DOC’s full-time director in July 2016.