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Chicken-Fried News: CEO badge

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INGVARD ASHBY
  • Ingvard Ashby

Gov. Kevin Stitt wants Oklahoma to be run like a business — just like his successful Gateway Mortgage — as he promotes his initiative for Oklahoma to be a “top 10” state. 

What’s a successful business without picking up a few lawsuits along the way? Gateway Mortgage has gone to court numerous times over the years. The company was banned from doing business in Georgia for making false statements and misrepresenting facts to lenders, and it has been fined in seven other states according to Oklahoma Watch. Stitt and his spokespeople have always pushed it off as rogue employees who were fired for their deeds. What company has not had a few bad apples run afoul of the law? Consider it a badge of honor that only successful businesspeople get to wear; it’s like a gold-plated red badge of courage. 

Apparently Stitt’s cabinet appointee for secretary of veterans’ affairs, Brian Brurud, has the necessary merit. Brurud, a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and Air National Guard, founded Check-6 in 2007. The company provided consulting services to high-risk industries like offshore drilling and almost exclusively hires veterans who they call “coaches,” where their time aboard aircraft carries comes in handy on oil rigs. 

Check-6 is subject of a federal lawsuit that says the company underpaid its “coaches” by classifying them as consultants instead of full-time employees, making them ineligible for overtime pay, according to Oklahoma Watch. The lawsuit claims that some of the consultants worked as many as 84 hours a week and cost an average of $44,790 per person over a three-year period. 

The headline of the story says, “Stitt’s pick for veterans secretary accused of underpaying veterans,” which is true since Check-6 employs veterans, but it’s not like Brurud was walking into VAs and taking money out of the pockets of veterans. He was merely doing what any good CEO might do: classifying his workers in such a way that they do not get a fair share of the profits they helped create. Anything else would be socialism, and we don’t like that word in Oklahoma.

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