Cleta Mitchell

SOURCE:  Wikipedia, captured 2020-08-26
This page last modified: 2022-02-10 13:15:30 -0800 (PST)

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  • Cleta Deatherage Mitchell (born September 15, 1950) is an American lawyer, politician and conservative activist. Elected in 1976, Mitchell served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives until 1984, representing District 44 as member of the Democratic Party.

    Early life and education

    Cleta Mitchell was born as Cleta B. Deatherage in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1950. Cleta Mitchell attended Classen High School her junior and senior year. Cleta Mitchell received a B.A. in 1973 and a J.D. in 1975, both from the University of Oklahoma. Mitchell also has an honorary degree in Home Economics from Oklahoma State University due to her work with former dean, Beverly Crabtree.

    In 1971, Mitchell was one of the five original conveners of the Oklahoma Women's Political Caucus.

    Married life

    Cleta Mitchell married Duane Draper, a fellow Oklahoman from Norman, in 1973. In 1980, Draper moved to Massachusetts to take a teaching fellowship at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The couple divorced two years later in July 1982 on grounds of "incompatibility." Draper later came out as a gay man and became director of AIDS programming at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

    In 1984, Cleta Deatherage married Dale Mitchell, who was the son of all-star Brooklyn Dodgers left-fielder Dale Mitchell. In the early 1980s, the FBI began investigating Dale Mitchell for banking malpractice, and in 1992 he was convicted of five felony counts of conspiracy to defraud, misapplying bank funds and making false statements to banks, and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution. According to Mitchell, this is what convinced her that government had grown too big.

    Oklahoma House of Representatives

    Mitchell served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1976 to 1984, as member of the Democratic Party. Cleta Mitchell was the first woman in the United States to chair a House Appropriations and Budget Committee. Cleta Mitchell served on the executive committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures.


  • Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget committee.

  • Career after the House

    In 1991 Cleta Mitchell moved to Washington to become general counsel and executive director of the Term Limits Legal Institute  [local copy], and later served as a losing co-counsel in the case of U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton.

    Mitchell is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Foley & Lardner.

    Cleta Mitchell has served as legal counsel for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Rifle Association. Cleta Mitchell represents Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)  [past-President, The Heritage Foundation] , Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). Cleta Mitchell has also represented Tea Party candidates Sharron Angle and Joe Miller.

    Cleta Mitchell refused to represent Christine O'Donnell.

    Cleta Mitchell has been appointed to the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Election Law and as an advisor on the American Law Institute's  Election Law Project entitled, "Principles of Election Law: Resolution of Election Disputes"  [2012-04-16; local copy]

    Cleta Mitchell serves on the Board of Directors of the Bradley Foundation. Cleta Mitchell also serves on the Board of the National Rifle Association (NRA), where she has also been a lawyer, and the American Conservative Union Foundation. Cleta Mitchell sits on the Board of Governors of the Republican National Lawyers Association, where she is a former president.

    After leaving the House and an unsuccessful run for Lieutenant Governor in 1986, Mitchell switched her political affiliation from Democratic to Republican.

    In August 2013, conservative Newsmax magazine named Mitchell among the "25 most influential women in the GOP".

    National Rifle Association and congressional investigation

    In 2018, The McClatchy Company reported that Mitchell, as a long time lawyer for the National Rifle Association (NRA), had previously expressed concerns about the NRA's close ties to Russia and the possibility that Russia had been funneling cash through the NRA into Donald Trump's 2016 Presidential Campaign. Mitchell's name was included in a list of individuals that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to interview in connection with the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Upon learning of the report, Mitchell denied ever having expressed such concerns.

    Awards and achievements

  • "Rising Star" Award by Campaigns and Elections magazine (1993)

  • South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce's Native Daughter Award

  • Outstanding Female Attorney (1980)

  • Selected as a Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics (1981)

  • Published works

    Press articles

  • Campaign-Finance Reform and Its Casualties, The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2012.

  • Give Partisanship a Rest and Address Real Issues, The New York Times, November 9, 2012.

  • Scholarly articles

  • 'The Rise of America's Two National Pastimes: Baseball and the Law' (1999, Michigan Law Review)

  • 'Donor Disclosure: Undermining The First Amendment' (Minnesota Law Review, 2012)

  • Books

  • The Lobbying Compliance Handbook (2008, Columbia Books)

  • Additional Reading

  • [, 2021-11-18] Cleta Mitchell, Who Advised Trump's Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election, Named to Election Advisory Board.

  • [, 2019-10-02] How to Get Away With Gerrymandering. A leaked audio recording reveals how state lawmakers are taught to trash evidence, avoid the word gerrymander, and create an appearance of bipartisanship.  |  ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council

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