The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

November 2, 2013

Okla. lawmakers question conduct after convictions

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OKLAHOMA CITY —

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A House committee was formed to investigate Terrill’s activities after the charges were filed. In 2011, the committee declined to take any action.

Morgan, D-Stillwater, was sentenced to five years’ probation after being convicted of taking a $12,000 bribe from an assisted-living center in exchange for attempting to influence legislation that would have eased regulations on the state’s nursing home industry. A jury acquitted him of related extortion and mail fraud counts and could not reach a verdict on other counts.

Morgan is appealing his conviction and maintains the money was actually payment of his legal fees.

Terrill, R-Moore, allegedly offered to put Leftwich in an $80,000-a-year job at the medical examiner’s office if she would agree to not seek re-election in 2010 so a Republican colleague of Terrill’s could run for her open seat.  

Terrill testified in his own defense during his trial, claiming he did not offer Leftwich a job and that she never asked him for one. He was convicted of offering a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy, and his jury recommended that he serve one year in prison and pay a $5,000 fine.

Leftwich is accused of soliciting a bribe for withdrawal of candidacy. Jury selection for her trial is scheduled to begin on Dec. 9.

The criminal trials have focused attention on how the Oklahoma Legislature conducts its business, but lawmakers said it has also raised other issues.

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said Terrill’s conviction was due in part to a state law that defines a candidate for public office as a person who has raised or spent campaign funds. Leftwich had raised campaign funds for the 2010 election but she never filed as a candidate.

“The impact should be that the Legislature ought to clarify the law,” Reynolds said. “I think that the idea that you become a candidate when you put together a campaign committee is inappropriate.”

He said state campaign records include dozens of examples of people who formed campaign committees that are dormant.

“Sometimes people put together a committee and they don’t raise any money,” Reynolds said. Some potential candidates change their mind after a campaign committee is formed or decide to run for another office, he said.

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