Less than two weeks before the 2020 legislative session begins, Oklahoma State Sen. Jason Smalley (R-Stroud) today announced his resignation to accept a job with Motorola Solutions Corp. Rumors that the moderate Republican would be stepping down to accept a private-sector job surfaced last week, but Smalley only confirmed the situation to NonDoc this afternoon.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of Lincoln, Pottawatomie, and Seminole counties, and I will always treasure the trust that the citizens of Oklahoma have placed in me,” Smalley said in an emailed statement. “After serving my country in the U.S. Marines for six years and eight years in an elective office, I believe it is the right time and opportunity to enter back into the business world.”
Smalley had held the position of majority caucus chairman for the GOP Senate Caucus and said in his statement that he would be sending his resignation letter — effective Jan. 31 — to Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) later today.
“Motorola Solutions provides critical-mission technologies utilized by our first-responders, ensuring public safety across Oklahoma and the country,” said Smalley, whose title with Motorola will be senior account manager. “My experience in public office but also as a Marine makes it a great fit and opportunity to continue to improve the communities in Oklahoma.”
During the 2019 session, Smalley made headlines when he declined to hear a bill criminalizing abortion. Supporters of the proposal canvassed his hometown with fliers and put up other signs criticizing him for the decision. A Stroud native, Smalley’s legislative service yielded a reputation of being a supporter of common and higher education.
On the final day of a special session in November 2017, Smalley voted against a budget bill that cut agency appropriations. He debated against the bill for several minutes, addressing then-Gov. Mary Fallin as she sat alone in the Senate chamber. The budget passed, but Fallin used a line-item veto to force lawmakers to return and ultimately raise new revenue.
The 2020 Oklahoma legislative session is set to begin on Monday, Feb. 3. Smalley said the legislation he had filed for 2020 would be transferred to other senators.
Smalley said he will not be a registered lobbyist for Motorola in Oklahoma but that he will supervise the duties of a registered lobbyist. In his official resignation letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt (embedded below), Smalley said he will “be in charge of [Motorola’s] Oklahoma operations.”
“I believe no one can understand more than you about how much time is sacrificed, and with three young children at home, these are decisions that weigh on us all,” Smalley wrote to Stitt. “My time serving under (your) leadership has provided great insight into how we can reform and make Oklahoma a better place, and I wish you the best sailing in all your endeavors.”
Background on Jason Smalley
First elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2012, serving one term before running for and winning the State Senate 28 seat in 2014. His district also includes the communities of Seminole, Prague, Wewoka, Tecumseh and Chandler.
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Smalley graduated from the University of Oklahoma and lists his occupation as “technology consultant” on his State Senate page. He and his wife, C’Anne, have three children. Smalley is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
In December, Rep. Shane Stone (D-OKC) announced his resignation before the 2020 legislative session.
(Update: This post was updated at 1:55 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, to include Sen. Jason Smalley’s official resignation letter. It was updated again at 5:20 p.m. to include additional details.)