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Chicken-Fried News: Free legal advice!

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The deputy general counsel advises the governor on legal issues that arise in the day-to-day operation of the executive branch.

We at Chicken-Fried News admit there is probably a bit more to the deputy general counsel position, but that’s the job in a nutshell. Of course, no government employee should use their position for personal gain or to benefit friends or family.

When a family calls the governor’s office to petition for commuting a sentence, the deputy general counsel certainly shouldn’t suggest hiring her own hubby as a criminal defense attorney. After all, that would be an ethics violation. Right?

That’s just what happened in Gov. Mary Fallin’s office, according to an investigation by The Frontier online news organization.

The Frontier learned that Jennifer Chance, while acting as the deputy general counsel, suggested in a 2016 phone call that relatives of former Reserve Deputy Robert Bates — who was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting of an unarmed suspect — hire her husband Derek Chance.

In efforts to seek a commutation for Bates, the family hired Derek Chance. The commutation was denied in November.

TheFrontier.com reported Fallin “was reportedly not aware that her general counsel had referred the Bates family to her husband.”

Jennifer Chance, who was named Fallin’s general counsel in October, took a leave of absence before submitting her resignation on March 8. As The Frontier put it, “It’s unclear what, if anything, will occur as a result of Jennifer Chance referring legal business to her husband.”

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