Grandfather's advice sets Drummond's path to AG office


Marione Martin

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond stopped in Alva Wednesday in his tour of the state. A crowd filled the Cherokee Strip Museum Annex for his speech.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is on a speaking and listening tour aimed at visiting all the major towns in Oklahoma. In Alva Thursday, Drummond said residents of Alva might consider themselves rural but that's not the way he looks at it. He grew up in Osage County near Hominy, which has a population of 2,500.

Before his public appearance, Drummond stopped by the Woods County Courthouse to talk with officials in the various departments.

Opening his remarks later at the Cherokee Strip Museum Annex, Drummond first provided some insight into his background. When he was 14 his grandfather said, "Son, you need to do two things – you need to serve in the military and you need serve our state."

"I was very impressionable. Now as a grandfather of five, I know exactly what he was doing," said Drummond. "He was exploiting me. He knew if I'd do that I wouldn't chase women too hard, wouldn't do drugs, wouldn't be a drunk."

But those words from his grandfather seem to have guided his future path. After graduating from Oklahoma State University, he went into the Air Force where "I flew F-15 fighter jets for the next eight years culminating in the Gulf War.

"Now I knew I was not cut out to be a career officer," he said. "Pilots, many times one out of two, in the course of a career will be grounded at one time. I was grounded seven times. I thought I should just live hard in the Air Force and have a great time."

He said it was little things like the time he deployed to upstate New York. "The flight leader had an emergency and there I am a wingman. I have all this gas, and I see Niagara Falls and I should go practice ridge crossings.

"In combat areas, if there's a hill and you just float over it, they're going to shoot at you. What you do is you go over it upside down and roll over. There we are at Niagara Falls and it's above me and I'm so excited. And as I pitched my nose up and I roll inverted there's a tourist helicopter there I didn't anticipate right in front of me. I did negative G 180.

"I was 21. The front part of my brain hasn't quite developed. I didn't know that at the time, because I was the smartest guy I knew. But I landed; as I pulled in and parked my jet, my commander was there and he's like 'You didn't happen to be over Niagara Falls?'"

Drummond confessed and was told the base received thousands of phone calls about a plane showboating over the falls. He was grounded for two weeks. But his commanding officer wanted to make sure he spent some time thinking it over. He took him to the bus station and bought him a ticket to a Florida base, admonishing him, "You need to think about it."

After the military, Drummond studied law and returned home to Osage County. He had a successful business career including banking and a successful law career as a prosecutor and 28 years as a trial attorney.

Then he decided it was time to give back. He ran for attorney general in 2018 but lost by 371 votes. "But the guy the majority of Oklahoma voted for had to resign later," Drummond said. "The governor had the opportunity to appoint me. He said, 'Gentner, I know you're strong-willed. I just have one requirement. You've just got to obey.'" Drummond refused but ran for election in 2022 and won.

Illegal Marijuana Growers

Drummond, who described himself as the chief law enforcement officer in the state, broke his remarks into three "buckets."

"One of the areas that absolutely impacts Woods County and the State of Oklahoma is the illegal marijuana grow industry. We've got honest, law-abiding, tax-paying people in the cannabis industry. All of my remarks are not related to them. They are good people," he said.

"When I took office there were about 10,000 grow operations in Oklahoma. As of yesterday there were 6,299. And I hope by the end of this calendar year there are about 4,500, and then by the end of my term we're down to about 1,000. Here's the comparable data. We've got 6,299. We know imperatively, without a doubt, at least 3,000 of them are illegal."

He said the problem is that Oklahoma let the cannabis industry "write our rules. They wrote them in a way that encouraged illegal behavior without knowing we were encouraging illegal behavior. I'll just give you a few statistics. If you're a legal grower of marijuana, it costs you about $600 a pound to produce your marijuana. The market is $800 a pound. So there's a return of $200 per pound. If you're an illegal grower, your cost of production ... because you don't have to comply with the law and you don't have to pay taxes, you don't do your 941 ... your cost is $200 a pound. The black market is $1200 a pound. So we have a $1,000 per pound profit."

He said legislators have realized the limited state law enforcement resources and authorized him to build an organized crime task force. He has 140 lawyers and 60 agents who work for him. They will collaborate with local law enforcement and electric companies to identify illegal growers, and then OBN will come in to help take them out.

Native American – Oklahoma Relationship

Growing up in Osage County, Drummond is familiar with the history portrayed in the book and movie "Killers of the Flower Moon." Men were marrying Osage women, killing them and all their heirs and taking their head rights, which came from oil discovered on tribal land. Prosecutors and judges turned a blind eye. The federal government sent agents who arrested and prosecuted these men. "That group that came into Oklahoma, into Osage County, was the nucleus that formed the FBI," he said.

"Fast forward 100 years. Nobody was applying the laws in 100 years. The tribes weren't as sophisticated as they are today. And they challenged those laws that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that said Oklahoma, you cannot prosecute members of certain tribes that have certain rights," he continued.

"It's not migrated out to western Oklahoma. I've done a lot of research on the tribes of western Oklahoma. I don't think it will apply to you but it applies to the Five Civilized Tribes, who are now called the Five Tribes, and it applies to about eight tribes in Ottawa County, and it will probably apply to a sprinkling of other tribes.

"What that means is, we as the state of Oklahoma can't go in and prosecute murder, rape, larceny, things like that against Native Americans. It's a federal requirement. And the tribes can prosecute misdemeanors, lesser crimes. And that's made the governor lose his mind."

Drummond said he and governor are 180 degrees apart regarding the tribes. "The law says we must defer to the federal government," he said. He and his office are reaching out to tribal governments to work on agreements, partnerships, "to bring us back together." He's pointing out the state's strength to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate while the tribes do well in mental health, hospitalization and health care.

Accountability, Transparency

Marione Martin

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond talks with audience members during a reception Wednesday afternoon in Alva.

Drummond's third "bucket" is the concept of accountability, transparency, open meeting, open records, "all these things that good government is. My mother always said, 'I don't care what you do. Just don't do anything you're embarrassed to tell me.' Pretty good rule, right?"

He discussed the culture of making decisions behind closed doors that has developed over the last four and one-half years, particularly in signing contracts without doing requests for proposals to get the best for the least amount of money.

He provided examples such as the Epic founders his office is prosecuting. Another is an investigation into "prosecuting Mr. Swadley civilly or criminally under the tourism department."

Following his speech, Drummond answered questions from the audience. He also allowed some time to shake hands and talk with individuals from the audience.

A video of the entire speech including the question and answer period may be viewed at


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