State Rep. Tim Downing today issued the following statement applauding Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter for his leadership for the state through several recent actions to protect state residents and their liberties.
“Now more than ever we need strong leaders in Oklahoma who are decisive and willing to take action for the people,” said Downing, R-Purcell. “In recent days, AG Hunter has been that leader for Oklahoma, filing a lawsuit combatting the state’s opioid crisis, and taking the initiative to fight for Oklahomans when higher education officials lacked resolve to protect a cross and Bibles on one of our campuses.”
At the end of June, AG Hunter sued more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of misrepresenting in marketing claims the addictive risks of opioid painkillers and the extent to which they can be deadly while overstating treatment benefits. Almost 3,000 Oklahomans have died after overdosing on opioid painkillers in the past three years.
AG Hunter also recently intervened in a threatened lawsuit against East Central University by the Washington-based group Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The university president first announced she would remove a cross from the steeple of the Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel as well as Bibles and other religious artifacts within the chapel in response to the threat.
“It is alarming to think that a simple demand letter from an out of state special interest group resulted in an unelected government employee making that decision,” said Downing. “Since 1957 the East Central University community, as well as the citizens of Pontotoc County, have known the chapel as it stands today, and as it should remain.”
In a letter to university officials, AG Hunter said the decision would have a profound impact on other similar institutions and on the state overall, and therefore the matter should be referred to his office where the highest priority would be the defense of Oklahoma’s religious freedom under the law.
“The Office of the Attorney General protects Oklahomans in numerous actions every single day. As a Representative, these are both examples where constituents have voiced their concerns, and AG Hunter’s decisive and swift protection of Oklahoman lives and freedoms is to be commended,” Downing said.
Hunter, the former Secretary of State, was appointed Attorney General after Scott Pruitt was appointed to Administrator of the EPA by President Trump.