Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello murdered

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Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, 59, was stabbed to death Sunday night.

The fatal attack took place at a Braum's Ice Cream store in northwest Oklahoma City, according to news reports. Christian Costello, the commissioner's son, was arrested.

I join my fellow Oklahomans in mourning the loss of Commissioner Costello. He was an outstanding public servant, admired for improving workplace safety while working with Oklahoma employers as a collaborator, not an adversary. Under his leadership, it became easier for Oklahomans to deal with the Labor Department, as he improved online access to department functions, which made it possible to cut department costs without sacrificing service.

Costello set himself apart by refusing to take campaign contributions from lobbyists, and in 2012, he called attention to the lobbyist effort to curry favor with new Republican officials at the State Capitol, noting the massive shift in contributions by the Oklahoma Public Employees Association -- from 97% to Democrat candidates in 2004 to 64% to Republican candidates in 2010. He reminded his fellow Republican officials that they had taken the legislature despite a tsunami of lobbyist cash supporting their opponents.

Beyond his public service, we remember Mark Costello's sense of whimsy -- campaign ads that spoofed Donovan's psychedelic 1960s tune "Mellow Yellow" ("Vote for Mark Costello"), inviting New York City mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan (of "The Rent Is Too Damn High" party) to sign autographs at Costello's booth at the 2012 Oklahoma Republican Convention.

May God comfort his family and friends, and may he rest in peace.


Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs pays tribute:

It is with great sorrow that we learned of the death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello. Mark was a longtime friend to the staff, board and members of OCPA. While our prayers and deepest sympathy are concentrated on his family during this unthinkable time, we remember the life of not just a great public servant but also a great man.

Mark was everywhere. If someone was trying to make their community better, get involved in the political process, or host a group committed to freedom, Mark was there, fully engaged in mind, body, and spirit. This loss will be felt by all Oklahomans in the days, weeks, and years to come.

We are grateful to have known and been led by Mark Costello and remember him most for his keen sense of and commitment to True North.

A statement from the Costello family:

There are no words to express the shock and sadness that our family has experienced the last number of hours. The outpouring of emotion and support our family feels is tremendous.

Our son, Christian Costello, has experienced many difficulties over the past several years. Christian, like thousands of Oklahomans, struggles with a mental health disease and like many families we did our best to support him. Mark was committed to being there for his son and provided whatever help he could as a father.

We ask for your prayers and support as our family tries to cope with and understand this life-changing tragedy.

Mark loved to brag about his kids and their successes, but like many in the public eye, he also viewed his family life as personal.

We ask that you respect our family's privacy as we work through this very difficult time and please understand that our family will struggle with this for years to come as we try and find answers.

Here's one of Costello's 2010 radio ads:

During the 2010 campaign, Costello spoke briefly at a voter education rally in Muskogee, talking about his early working life and how Barack Obama "inspired" him to get into politics. He also deals graciously with a correction from the audience:

In February 2013, Mark Costello spoke to the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee about reforms at the Labor Department:

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 24, 2015 1:42 AM.

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