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Ex-Gov. Keating No Stranger to Controversy

Leader of Catholic Church's watchdog panel has a history of rankling constituents with his off-the-cuff comments.

June 13, 2003|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

Whether heading up a national committee to root out sexual abuses in the Catholic Church or sitting as the governor of Oklahoma, former prosector and FBI Agent Frank A. Keating has a reputation for speaking his mind -- and suffering the consequences.

Before the U.S. Conference of Bishops tapped the 59-year-old Republican to head up the church's National Review Board, Keating served two terms as the governor of Oklahoma, taking office just three months before a terrorist's bomb tore through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 169 and injuring more than 600.

Keating's leadership during the 1995 bombing crisis won him national attention and praise, but a Tulsa World poll of Oklahoma voters during his second term said that off-the-cuff comments were considered his "his biggest failure."

As governor, Keating referred to teachers as "slugs" and suggested that "homicide" was the best way to deal with the teachers union. He also said Tulsans were "very dumb" because they did not elect his wife, Cathy, to Congress in 2001.

Keating struck a zealous note when he was named to the review board last year, promising to publicly name offending priests. He was harshly criticized when he suggested that Catholics find another church if they were uncomfortable with their current one. The Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, accused him of encouraging Catholics to commit "mortal sin" by skipping Mass. Keating denied that was what he intended.

A devout Catholic and father of three, Keating graduated from Georgetown University in 1966 and earned a law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1969.

He became an FBI agent, serving until 1971. After service in the Oklahoma Legislature, he was appointed U.S. attorney in the state by President Reagan. He later served under Reagan and former President Bush in various high-ranking positions in the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Keating has written a children's biography of Will Rogers, an Oklahoman, and is working on a book about Theodore Roosevelt. He is currently president and chief executive officer of the American Council of Life Insurers.

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