Governor Brad Henry's inauguration most expensive in state history

Wednesday, May 7th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Ceremonies for Governor Brad Henry's inauguration cost more than any other governor in the state's history.

Amid a state budget crisis, the governor and first lady Kim Henry talked about wanting a subdued ceremony, but in the end it was the most expensive, The Daily Oklahoman reported in Wednesday's editions.

Henry's inaugural committee raised more than $863,700 from private donors and spent more than $756,800 for the celebration, according reports filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

``Governor Henry made such a big deal about not wanting to spend a lot of money on the inauguration, and then it turns out he sets a record in spending,'' said Gary Jones, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. ``It strikes me as arrogance. It would be different if he hadn't said that, but it's just rhetoric. He's done that continually since taking office _ say one thing and do another.''

Susan Turpen, chairwoman of the Henry's inaugural committee, said the group has careful how it spent the money.

``Certainly if you spent $4,000 for ice sculptures at a party with 10 people that would seem extravagant,'' Turpen said. ``But when 3,000 people attend an event, it's not so extravagant. And that's what we did, we looked at how much we could spend per person.''

Henry is not the first governor to spend a lot of money on inaugural celebrations. In 1995, then-Gov. Frank Keating raised $706,000 for a statewide celebration.

In 1999, Keating spent less than the $446,110 raised for the event.

Inaugural events for Henry included a three inauguration night balls, a pancake breakfast, a prayer service, and a children's event at the Jasmine Moran Children's Museum in Seminole.

For Henry's celebration, inaugural planners spent $44,799 on decorations and more than $4,000 for ice sculptures, according to reports filed with the Ethics Commission.

Photos and a video of inaugural events cost $14,364 and frames for photographs sent to corporate sponsors of the events cost more than $10,000.

Party favors cost more than $29,489 and an additional $3,000 was spent on T-shirts for the children's event.

The committee also paid more than $11,000 for Kim Henry's ball gowns and suits worn to inaugural events, according to the reports.

The first lady's dress, worn to the Jan. 13 inaugural ball, has been donated to the state museum, Turpen said.

Turpen said contributions have paid most of the bills. Henry's committee raised more than $863,700 and includes several $10,000 contributions, according to the reports.

Oklahoma's American Indian tribes contributed $72,800 combined to Henrys inaugural committee, reports show. The Seminole Nation and Choctaw Nation contributed $10,000 each. The Chickasaw Nation donated $21,800, and the Osage Tribe donated $20,000. The Cherokee Nation contributed $11,000 to Henrys inaugural committee, according to the reports.

Other donors of $10,000 or more include OGE Energy, Williams Companies, Pre-Paid Legal Services, Tyson Foods, Avalon Correctional, ONEOK Inc., SBC Communications, Cox Communications and Philip Morris Management.

PeopleSoft Inc., the corporation whose data software will be used by the state beginning July 1, also contributed $10,000, according to the reports.

Atkins, an Oklahoma City company, donated $20,000, and R.L. Sias of Oklahoma City contributed $15,000, reports show.