Brian Bingman
Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Brian Bingman as Oklahoma's new secretary of state Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (NonDoc)

The shakeup of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet continued today with an announcement that Mike Mazzei has resigned as secretary of budget and that Brian Bingman will become the first-term governor’s new secretary of state and Native American affairs.

Last week, Michael Rogers announced his resignation as secretary of state in an agreement that will move him into a policy advisory roll. Rogers had previously stepped down as Stitt’s secretary of education in early August.

Bingman had joined the Stitt administration that same week as the governor’s chief policy advisory and legislative negotiator. The governor’s press release this afternoon said Bingman would retain that role as secretary of state.

“Sen. Bingman is a natural choice to be our next secretary of state,” Stitt said. “It has been clear since he joined our team that he is respected by our colleagues in the Legislature and Oklahomans across the state. His wisdom, calm demeanor and understanding of the legislative process will continue to benefit our state in his new role.”

Bingman, who is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, said he was honored to assume the new role.

“I have had great conversations building relationships with our colleagues in the Legislature and look forward to continuing to partner with them,” he said.

Mazzei ‘grateful’ for chance to ‘transform’ state finances

Mike Mazzei
From left to right: Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe, Secretary of Budget Mike Mazzei and Secretary of State Michael Rogers listen to Gov. Kevin Stitt after the Monday, April 20, 2020, Board of Equalization meeting. (Tres Savage)

Mazzei, meanwhile, will join a handful of other Stitt cabinet members and staff members who have departed the administration in the past year. Mazzei’s resignation will be effective Oct. 23.

“I have enjoyed serving in Gov. Stitt’s administration to help make Oklahoma a top-10 state,” Mazzei said in the press release. “I’m incredibly grateful for all the hard work and collaboration with the team of highly talented cabinet secretaries, budget staff, and agency financial officers to transform the financial operations of the state and provide more accountability and transparency. After an extraordinary season of time-consuming work, this is the right moment for me to step back and return to my financial planning company.”

Mazzei’s bonafides as a fiscal conservative were rarely questioned during the two years for which he represented Stitt in legislative budget negotiations. But Mazzei’s relationship with House and Senate budget leaders soured and then curdled, with lawmakers delivering an unusually candid critique of Mazzei and Stitt in a digital press conference this spring.

Monday, Stitt reiterated his appreciation for Mazzei’s public service.

“The state of Oklahoma is a better place because of Secretary Mazzei’s service,” Stitt said in his release. “Through 12 years in the Senate and two years as a cabinet secretary, he has fought for fiscal responsibility and prudent use of taxpayer dollars.”