Former Oklahoma state House speaker dies at age 64


Friday, November 19th 2004, 6:30 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Daniel David Draper Jr. of Stillwater, one of the most influential House speakers in state history, died Thursday morning of an apparent heart attack at age 64.

Draper became ill at his home in Stillwater and was pronounced dead at 3 a.m. Thursday, according to the House media office.

Draper, a Democrat, was credited with streamlining the legislative process, imposing a dress code and establishing an independent professional House staff.

Richard Huddleston, a former House clerk, remembered Draper as an innovator whose footprints can still be found throughout state government.

``During my tenure, I served with six speakers of the House and Dan Draper, without a doubt, was the most innovative in streamlining the legislative process that they still operate under to this day,'' Huddleston said.

Senate President Pro Tem Cal Hobson, who served with Draper in the House, called the Stillwater Democrat a brilliant and effective leader.

``When Dan Draper was speaker there was no question who was running the House. At the same time, I always found him to be extremely effective, informed and compassionate,'' said Hobson, D-Lexington.

He said Draper was ``the most intelligent legislator that I ever had the pleasure to serve with in the Oklahoma Legislature. He understood the statutes better than anyone who served in the House or the Senate in the 26 years that I've been here.''

During Draper's time as speaker, surpluses from an oil boom were used to increase funding for education, build an agriculture building and other structures and start a county bridge program.

Draper clashed with Gov. George Nigh, a fellow Democrat, over tax cuts, warning that the high oil prices would not last and the state could find itself in financial trouble in later years.

His words were prophetic as a collapse in oil prices in the early 1980s led to huge budget shortfalls.

Draper was also the mastermind behind a plan to blunt a Republican-led proposal to cut income taxes.

His political career, however, took a nosedive when he was convicted in a vote fraud scandal tied to his efforts to get his father elected to the House. His father, Daniel D. Draper II, died last year at age 93.

Draper and Majority Floor Leader Joe Fitzgibbon of Miami were removed from office after their federal convictions in the vote tampering case, but their convictions were overturned on appeal.

Draper returned to the House, but did not seek another term.

``Dan Draper made a positive impact on the House of Representatives that continues to this very day. His reforms are a credit to his able leadership,'' said Rep. Jari Askins, D-Duncan.

In recent years, Draper had been a lobbyist at the Capitol.

Survivors of the former speaker include his wife, Judy, a daughter and a son.

Funeral arrangements were pending with Strode Funeral Home in Stillwater.