Controversy Continues Over New TSET CEO Position

Monday, June 20th 2016, 8:00 pm
By: News 9

TSET's board was somewhat defiant last week in defending the decision to create this high-paying position, saying, legally, they are totally in the clear.

But it seems it's going to take more than a favorable legal opinion for this CEO job to become a reality.

To review, last week, Gov. Mary Fallin came out with strong criticism after TSET announced this new quarter million dollar CEO position, to be taken by former Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas.

Fallin said it sent the wrong message during tough economic times, and also violated her hiring freeze.

TSET's board chair Jim Gebhardt responded that the board remained "firmly behind" the decision, in part because of legal memos from the AG's office which say both a hiring freeze and salary cap are "unenforceable against TSET."

TSET is a state agency, but it's funded with tobacco settlement funds, not with annual state appropriations.

But TSET is on the state payroll system, and there's the catch; in order for the new hire to be put on payroll, TSET must submit certain paperwork to Health and Human Services Secretary Terry Cline.

At Fallin's urging, Cline has promised she will not approve that paperwork, as long as it shows a salary of $250,000.

So, TSET can either lower the salary, or they could potentially start using a different payroll system.