By a 3-0 vote this morning, the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners appointed local radio host and lobbyist Chad Alexander to the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, otherwise known as the jail trust.
“The jail is an issue that I’ve followed closely and one that I am passionate about,” Alexander told NonDoc after the vote. “My whole adult life, we’ve had issues with the county jail. From (former sheriffs) John Whetsel to P.D. Taylor, to the trust. Now, instead of following it in the media, I’ll be able to ask questions and help.”
Alexander replaces former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb whose resignation appeared on a commissioners agenda at the end of September. Lamb was not an active member of the trust during his time on the body, attending just a handful of meetings. Lamb attended just 14 of 34 meetings since January 2020, according to a review of meeting minutes by The Oklahoman.
The host of radio station KOKC‘s 4 to 6 p.m. time slot on 1520 AM and 95.3 FM, Alexander is registered to lobby the Oklahoma Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office for the Institute for Responsible Alcohol Policy, an industry association representing wine and spirit wholesalers who are also licensed beer distributors. The organization’s primary members are Republic National Distributing Company and Southern Glazers.
Alexander’s wife, Stephanie Alexander, is his designated filing agent with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Stephanie Alexander served as battleground states director for former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and as chief of staff for Trump’s 2020 re-election effort.
Chad Alexander also has a background in campaign politics, serving former Congressman J.C. Watts’ campaign manager prior to serving as chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
Prior to his May 2014 arrest for drug possession, Alexander had several other lobbying and political consulting clients, including the University of Oklahoma and Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign. At the time of his arrest, Alexander allegedly showed an Oklahoma City police officer a badge and said he was an assistant district attorney for Cleveland County, which was not true. Alexander was ultimately sentenced to five years probation following treatment for substance dependency.
Alexander holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Central Oklahoma. He graduated Pi Sigma Alpha as a member of the Political Science Honor Society. From December 2014 until June 2020, he served on the board of directors for the OKC Metro Alliance , a work recovery program for drug and alcohol abuse. He also has served on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, according to a press release provided by the jail trust.
‘A safe and humane environment’
Though the trust has been controversial since its creation in 2020, Alexander said the jail is so troubled with maintenance issues that it was not realistic to expect a dramatic turnaround in a short period.
“I think it’s hard when you have a building that has two decades of deferred maintenance,” he said. “You’ve got a chef without a kitchen, black mold (…) Nobody can turn it around in a year and a half. My hope is to be able to help solve the problem of people being detained for long periods of time and to make sure those in the jail are in a safe and humane environment. That’s in everyone’s interest because most of those in the jail don’t end up with the Department of Corrections, they get out and return to our community.”
District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey praised his nominee as a “redemption” story who can set an example for others.
Six months in, Oklahoma County’s jail trust is a chaotic mixed bag by Matt Patterson
“In my eyes he is a great story of redemption,” Calvey said during Monday’s meeting. “He owned up to his problems and it shows how law enforcement and the jail can help someone turn their life around, which he did. To me, as a Christian, I believe in redemption. Chad is the perfect example of someone who turned their life around.”
Several county residents in the gallery spoke against Alexander’s appointment to the jail trust.
“Chad Alexander is about as qualified to serve on a jail trust — which is a matter of life and death — as Nicki Minaj is to be surgeon general of the United States,” said OKC activist Mark Faulk.
Restaurant owner Sean Cummings also spoke against Alexander.
“I have nothing against Chad Alexander whatsoever but this jail is in crisis and you have the audacity to bring someone in — a political science major and radio talk show host,” Cummings said.
The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority is next scheduled to meet Monday, Oct. 18.