Oklahoma Officials Joked About Trading Lethal Injection Drugs for Tickets to Texas-OU Game

Before this week’s botched execution in Oklahoma, officials there went to lengthy measures to acquire the fatal pharmaceuticals they needed — and to ensure the public would not know where those drugs came from, or if they met the Supreme Court’s standards against cruel and unusual punishment. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin — who knew the drugs being used were “experimental” and acquired in a “gray market” using petty cash, and insisted on carrying out the execution despite a stay from the state’s Supreme Court — has called for a review of the procedures.

But three years before that, some of the same Oklahoma officials were joking about letting Texas use some of their supply of drugs, in exchange for passes on the North Dallas Tollway and good seats at the Cotton Bowl for the Red River Shootout. And if the Longhorns agreed to tank.

Last month, the Colorado Independent ran a story detailing the flippant attitudes of Oklahoma Assistant Attorney Generals Seth Branham and Stephen J. Krise. In emails from 2011, the two joked that because Texas had not shared its supply of lethal injection drugs when Oklahoma was in need, that the Lone Star State would have to pay with perks.

From the Independent:

In November 2010, Texas had 39 doses of sodium thiopental while Oklahoma and other states had run out. Texas declined to share even though the 39 doses were, according to media reports, set to expire in March 2011 and the state only had three executions planned.

“Looks like they waited until the last minute and now need help from those they refused to help earlier,” Branham wrote.

In an email to his colleague, he dubbed the group of Oklahoma officials who had been working to procure lethal injection drugs — “Team Pentobarbital,” As the joke went, the prospect of helping Texas meet its lethal injection needs after having been thwarted was so generous that it entitled them to public adulation and free perks.

Branham emailed Krise that he would “forgive and forget with sideline passes for Team Pentobarbital (you, me, Martha, the Warden, Mike Oakley, plus anyone else we can think of who is deserving) to the 2011 OU-Texas game plus an on-field presentation of a commemorative plaque at halftime recognizing Oklahoma’s on-going contributions to propping up the Texas system of capital punishment.”

His wish list of payback didn’t end with football.

“And throw in lifetime passes for the North Dallas Tollway, Highway 121 and the Bush Turnpike,” he wrote. “That would be a good deal.”