Cleta Mitchell

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Cleta Deatherage Mitchell
Cleta Mitchell by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Member of the
Oklahoma House of Representatives
In office
Preceded by Mina Hibdon
Succeeded by Carolyn Anne Thompson
Personal details
Born Cleta B. Deatherage
(1950-09-15) September 15, 1950 (age 66)[1]
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma[1]
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party[1]
Republican Party
Spouse(s) Dale Mitchell m. 1984–present
Duane Draper m. 1973–1982
Residence Washington, D.C.
Alma mater University of Oklahoma,
B.A. (1973), J.D. (1975)
Occupation Attorney, Politician
Website Foley & Lardner biography
Cleta Mitchell on Facebook

Cleta Deatherage Mitchell (born September 15, 1950[1]) is an American lawyer, politician and conservative activist.[2][3][4][5][6] Elected in 1976, Mitchell served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives until 1984, representing District 44.

Early life and education[edit]

Cleta Mitchell

Cleta Mitchell was born as Cleta B. Deatherage in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1950. She attended Classen High School her junior and senior year. She received a B.A. in 1973 and a J.D. in 1975, both from the University of Oklahoma.[2][3][4] 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.[7]

Married life[edit]

She 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,[8] 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.[9] According to Mitchell, this is what convinced her that government had grown too big.[10]

Oklahoma House of Representatives[edit]

She served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1976 to 1984, as member of the Democratic Party.[1] She was the first woman in the United States to chair a House Appropriations and Budget Committee.[1][2][3][4][5] She served on the executive committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures.[2][3][4][5]


  • Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget committee

Career after the House[edit]

She is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Foley & Lardner.[2][3][4][5] She has served as legal counsel for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Rifle Association.[2][3] She 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), 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).[4][5][6] She has also represented Tea Party candidates Sharron Angle and Joe Miller.[6] She refused to represent Christine O'Donnell .[6] She 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: Dispute Resolution."[2][3]

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Bradley Foundation.[2][3][4][11] She also serves on the Board of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Conservative Union Foundation.[2][3][4][12] She sits on the Board of Governors of the Republican National Lawyers Association, where she is a former president.[2][3][4] After leaving the House, 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".[13]

Awards and achievements[edit]

  • “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)[14]

Published works[edit]

Press articles
Scholarly articles
  • The Lobbying Compliance Handbook (2008, Columbia Books)[2][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Pappas, Christine. MITCHELL, CLETA DEATHERAGE (1950– ), Oklahoma Historical Society
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Foley & Lardner biography
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m American Conservative Union Foundation biography
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Republican National Lawyers Association biography
  5. ^ a b c d e Leadership Institute Speaker Bio
  6. ^ a b c d Elizabeth Williamson, Riding Shotgun on Campaign Trail, The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2010
  7. ^ Tanya, Finchum (June 21, 2007). "Oral history interview with Cleta Deatherage Mitchell". Women of the Oklahoma Legislature. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Robert E. Boczkiewicz. "Mitchell Cited in Bank Fraud Case". The Oklahoman, July 31, 1992.
  9. ^ Ed Godfrey. "Jury Finds Ex-Banker Guilty on 5 Counts". The Oklahoman, December 15, 1992.
  10. ^ "Meet Cleta Mitchell, the Conservative Movement's Anti-Gay Eminence Grise". The Atlantic.
  11. ^ The Bradley Foundation Board of Directors
  12. ^ National Rifle Association Board of Directors
  13. ^ Meyers, Jim. "Newsmax Exclusive: The 25 Influential Women of the GOP". Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Pappas, Christine. "MITCHELL, CLETA DEATHERAGE". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 

External links[edit]