The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

November 2, 2013

Okla. lawmakers question conduct after convictions

OKLAHOMA CITY — For the second time in as many years, an Oklahoma jury has convicted a former state lawmaker of a crime arising from his alleged conduct while in office.

Last year, former state Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan was convicted on a federal bribery charge that accused him of taking a $12,000 bribe in exchange for his influence on legislation.

On Tuesday, former state Rep. Randy Terrill was convicted on a state bribery charge that accused him of offering a legislative colleague a state job in exchange for her promise not to seek re-election.

That colleague, former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich, is scheduled to go on trial on a related bribery charge next month. She has pleaded not guilty.

———

AMID the scrutiny, members of the state House and Senate are considering whether the way they conduct the people’s business and the multiple prosecutions will chill legislative debate and action.

“I think what it says to anybody is that transparency and playing by the rules is the first order of business,” said Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City. “Everything should be done within the letter of the law.

“There has been lots of discussion that this may or may not have a chilling effect. I don’t think that it will.”

Morrissette’s comments were echoed by other lawmakers who said the criminal cases involving their former colleagues should not affect their public responsibilities.

“I certainly don’t have those concerns,” said Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore. “I think that we’re doing our duty in serving our constituents. I have not heard anyone express concern about proposing legislation that might jeopardize them in some legal way.”

Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, said the prosecutions are “a message to those who might operate on the margins.”

“We really need to be very serious about the way we conduct business at the Capitol,” Hickman said.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said the allegations of official wrongdoing are also a warning to state lawmakers to do a better job of cleaning up their own houses.

“The allegations that were made should be prosecuted,” Jolley said. “My only regrets would be when a prosecutor finds it and the body does not on its own.”

Evidence of wrongdoing against a lawmaker should be thoroughly investigated to determine if the member should be removed from office and then referred for prosecution, he said.

“I think it’s the responsibility of a body to clean its own house,” Jolley said.

Text Only
National and world
  • Health overhaul web.jpg Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law clash

    But the split rulings don’t necessarily mean another trip to the Supreme Court for the Affordable Care Act.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Senate Georgia web.jpg Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Tuesday night’s primary runoff win validates Perdue’s campaign as an outsider.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ODD Brooklyn Bridge M_Hass.jpg Police probing switch of flags on Brooklyn Bridge

    Video footage of the security breach shows the unidentified people walking on the bridge's footpath at about 3:10 a.m., and 20 minutes later the light on the bridge's Brooklyn tower flickers and goes dark. The same thing happens about 12 minutes later on the Manhattan tower.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Veterans Health_Hass.jpg Obama nominee McDonald pledges to ‘transform’ VA

    Robert McDonald cited problems with patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity, among other issues, during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee over his nomination today.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Immigration Overload_Hass.jpg 2008 law unexpectedly at center of border debate

    "The 2008 law creates a process that made sense when you're talking about a limited number of children, the victims of sex trafficking. It doesn't make sense when you talk about 50,000 unaccompanied minors. The 2008 law wasn't designed to deal with this situation." — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Hass.jpg Gaza rocket lands near Israel's main airport

    A Delta Boeing 747 from New York was flying over the Mediterranean headed for Tel Aviv on Tuesday when it turned around and flew to Paris instead. Flight 468 had 273 passengers and 17 crew on board.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rick Perry sending National Guard troops to border

    The deployment of National Guard troops, which may act in a law enforcement capacity under state authority, will cost Texas an estimated $12 million per month. They simply will be “referring and deterring” immigrants and not detaining people, authorities said.

    July 21, 2014

  • Gay, transgender workers gain U.S. bias protection

    “America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” President Obama declared at a White House signing ceremony.

    July 21, 2014 1 Story

  • Judge won’t lift Fla. Keys gay marriage stay

    Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia rejected a motion to allow immediate weddings filed by attorneys for Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, a pair of Key West bartenders whose lawsuit successfully challenged the ban.

    July 21, 2014

  • Obama Medal of Honor_Hass.jpg Obama bestows Medal of Honor on N.H. veteran

    Ryan M. Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest decoration for battlefield valor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads