Former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a member of the trust that oversees the troubled Oklahoma County Detention Center, missed more than half of the body’s meetings in 2020 as the facility dealt with a spate of deaths, maintenance issues and COVID-19.
According to the rules that govern the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, any trustee who misses more than half of the meetings in a calendar year must immediately be removed, but Lamb has continued to serve on the trust in 2021.
Lamb was absent from about 60 percent of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority’s meetings in 2020. He missed 14 out of 23 public meetings the trust held last year, according to The Frontier’s tally of board minutes.
In an interview, Lamb said no one on the trust has asked him about his attendance record or raised concerns about his ability to continue serving on the board.
Lamb didn’t give specific reasons for why he missed individual meetings, but he said the ongoing pandemic coupled with the trust’s transition from virtual to in-person meetings in 2020 had contributed to his frequent absences.
“I’ve not done a count of the meetings, but I’m sure others have, particularly those who don’t align with me politically or my approach to the trust,” he said. “The trust has truly been a priority for me.”
Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey appointed Lamb to serve on the trust in 2019.
Tricia Everest, who serves as the chairwoman of the trust, told The Frontier that she has notified the Oklahoma County Commissioners that Lamb had not met the attendance requirements of the trust in the past year. However, it is up to Calvey to decide whether to choose a new appointee, she said.
Calvey did not respond to an email, as well as multiple text and voicemail messages from The Frontier.
Everest noted that the trust had several supplemental meetings in 2020 as the body dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, which significantly increased the time commitment required of trustees. The Criminal Justice Authority’s main responsibility is to oversee the jail’s finances and ensure taxpayer money to operate the facility is spent openly and transparently. Many members of the 9-person board, including Lamb, also juggle full-time jobs and other professional responsibilities.
Lamb served as lieutenant governor from 2011 to 2019. He finished third in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary and now works for an Oklahoma City corporate security company. Lamb also regularly appears as a panelist on the weekly local public affairs program Flashpoint on KFOR-TV.
Everest said that Lamb has stayed in communication with her about his ability to attend meetings as well as any scheduling conflicts.
Lamb last attended a jail trust meeting on Jan. 19. During the meeting, local criminal justice activists taunted Lamb over his frequent absences.
‘I’m completely disappointed in you,” activist Sara Bana said to Lamb during a heated public comment portion of the meeting. “It speaks (to) your privilege and the cronyism that exists within the county government for you to continue occupying or dictating the outcomes of directly impacted communities here.”
Lamb missed the last meeting of the jail trust on Friday, Feb. 19. The meeting was held virtually. Lamb did not miss any critical votes that week, but jail administrators gave an update on how the facility had struggled to maintain water pressure inside the building and after a record-breaking winter storm.
The same day, Lamb taped an episode of Flashpoint that aired the following Sunday. During the episode, Lamb sparred with Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert over President Joe Biden’s energy policy but remained silent as discussion turned to conditions inside the jail and a recent series of deaths there. Seven prisoners have died inside the jail since November.
In an interview with The Frontier, Lamb said he didn’t recall the time or date that he had taped Flashpoint that week.
The Frontier filed an open records request for emails from Blumert, which showed taping for the segment was scheduled during the same time as the Feb. 19 jail trust meeting.
“I’m certainly not trying to prioritize anything over the trust, but conflicts sometimes do arise,” Lamb said.