Martin Edwin Trapp (April 18, 1877 – July 26, 1951) was an American politician who served as the first Oklahoma State Auditor under Governor Charles N. Haskell. Later, Trapp served as the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma from 1915 to 1923 when Governor John C. Walton was removed from office. Trapp succeeded Walton as the sixth Governor of Oklahoma.
Trapp would begin his political career in 1904 when he ran on the Democratic ticket for the Logan County County Clerk, an office he would be hold from 1905 to 1907. During 1907, Oklahoma Territory would be forever changed. On November 16, 1907 Oklahoma Territory officially became the US State of Oklahoma. Trapp would leave County government behind him and would run for, and be elected, Oklahoma’s first State Auditor. Trapp would serve under Charles N. Haskell, the first Governor of Oklahoma, from 1907 to 1911. After his term as State Auditor, Trapp would move to Muskogee, Oklahoma where he would set up a bond business.
Trapp would make a return to Oklahoma politics in 1914 when the Democrats nominated him to serve as the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. Replacing outgoing Lieutenant Governor John A Greer, Trapp would be elected to his new office for three consecutive terms, in 1914, 1918, and for an unprecedented third term in 1922. As the Lieutenant Governor, Trapp would serve under Governors Robert L. Williams, James B. A. Robertson, and John C. Walton. Trapp would only serve for the first 11 months of his third term. On October 23, following impeachment charges against Governor Walton, Trapp became the acting Governor. Walton was found guilty by the Oklahoma Senate in its role as the Court of Impeachment on November 19, 1923. Following the Oklahoma Constitution, Trapp immediately left the office of Lieutenant Governor to be inaugurated as the sixth Governor of Oklahoma.
Trapp succeeded in having the Legislature repel over $10,000,000 in expenditures that Walton had set up, thus restoring the State’s credit. Unfortunately, this meant repelling the state’s new free text book program and a one third reduction in the funds spend on school aid. Through the use of a three cent gasoline tax, Trapp raised enough funds to finance Oklahoma’s first Highway Commission. This Commission oversaw Oklahoma’s much needed highway construction program.
Following a growth national trend started by US President Theodore Roosevelt back in 1907, Trapp began a program of economic conservatism. Trapp created the Oklahoma Forestry Commission, the Oklahoma Conservatism Commission, and the Oklahoma Fish and Game Commission out of his desire to preserve the environment. Trapp expanded the term lengths of all county offices from two years to four, enacted a state drainage law to protect the state from floods, and raised the cost of licenses in the state.
Trapp also proved to be an effective law enforcement officer. For the first time in the state’s history, a State Bureau of Criminal Investigation was established in 1925 from pressure from Trapp’s administration. Trapp asked the Legislature for harsher punishment and stricter enforcement of prohibition, which he received. Trapp also tackled the growing power of the Ku Klux Klan by passing an anti-mask law which eventually reduced the group’s power.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court investigated the issue. On June 6, 1926, the Court ruled on the case Fitzpatrick v. McAlister, which stated that Trapp was "the Governor for the simple reason that he governs. He governs officially for the reason that section 16 expressly vests him with authority to do so. Therefore he is the official Governor, and, being the official Governor, he is rendered ineligible to succeed himself by the inhibition contained in section 4, art. 6, of the Constitution.” Thus, Trapp was ineligible to run for reelection.
Trapp was responsible for many positive programs in Oklahoma’s history. With the establishment of the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Oklahoma’s law enforcement agencies gained an invaluable ally in law enforcement. Conservatism was brought to Oklahoma for the first time under Trapp’s administration, with much of Oklahoma’s environment being preserved for later generations. Even racial issue such as the KKK where dealt with under Trapp. However, the thing that Trapp is most remembered for is being the first Lieutenant Governor to ascend to the Governorship following the impeachment of removal from office of John C. Walton.