OK Democrats Call For Investigation Amid Harassment Allegations - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |


OK Democrats Call For Investigation Amid Harassment Allegations

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Oklahoma House of Representatives Democrats called for an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa) and settlement payments made by the state, Friday morning. However, they stopped short of recommending a punishment for Kirby.

UPDATE: As of 8:20 p.m. Friday, officials confirmed Rep. Dan Kirby resigned from his position effective December 31. He said the following in a letter to the Speaker of the House Charles McCall: 

"Dear Speaker McCall 

Please accept my resignation as representative of District 75 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. 

Recent events have caused a situation where my continuing in office would be such a distraction that I could not serve my constituents in the manner they deserve. I believe that a resignation is in the best interest of the district, the House of Representatives and the state of Oklahoma. 

I want to say what a privilege it has been to represent the people of District 75.  I have always sought to do everything I can to serve the people of the district and the state in the best manner possible. I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to serve in the house for these past 8 years. However it is now best for all concerned if I step aside. 

Sincerely yours

Dan Kirby"

The press conference was lead by Minority Leader Rep. Scott Inman (D-Del City) where he condemned the alleged sexual assault and use of taxpayer money given to Kirby’s accuser and her attorneys.

“We think and outside legal team to investigate top to bottom,” the usually outspoken Democrat said.

Kirby, 58, was accused by a former legislative assistant (LA), Hollie Bishop, 28, of sexually harassing her and then firing her after she refused his advances and reported them to Human Resources, according to a letter sent by Bishop’s lawyers to the House.

State records show she and her lawyers were paid $44,500 in two separate payments. One payment was marked “legal settlement” paid to the. The other payment, to her attorneys, was filed under “housekeeping” and cleaning supplies.

“To hide what appears to be hush money under housekeeping and cleaning supplies budget item is concerning to the caucus,” Inman said.

The new speaker-elect Charles McCall's (R-Atoka) office said Friday there was no cover-up that the payment marked as housekeeping was simply a clerical error in the coding of the Offices of Management and Enterprise Services system. A spokesperson for OMES was unavailable to confirm those codes.

An outside attorney, Courtney Warmington, hired by the House said in a statement Thursday the settlement wasn't secret, it was settled in private. She also said Kirby was not aware of the settlement and there was “no admission of wrongdoing by anyone.” It’s unclear how much Warmington was paid for her services or why she was hired at all. The House already retains general counsel. Kirby has not returned question for a comment on the settlement.

“We believe it is improper and illegal for the house of representatives to pay any amount to waive his liability in this matter,” Inman said.

In a list of 21 questions, house Democrats are looking for answers about who signed off on the payment, whether House leadership knew and for the first time how involved was former Rep. Randy Grau, (R-Edmond) a question that rekindled rumors of an affair between he and Bishop.

Grau would not address the rumors in an email but directed News9 to the House legal department but saying "at no time have I ever been involved in any sexual harassment claim."

In a response late Friday afternoon, McCall reiterated he was not the speaker-elect at the time of the settlement. They were made Nov 22. McCall too office Nov. 23.

“Like you, I believe the House of Representatives should be a safe and professional place to work,” he wrote in part to Inman. “I assure you I have begun to look into this matter.”

Former House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview) said on Thursday he was not aware of the details of the settlement, only that it was a “personnel matter” that had been “handled.” When asked if he knew about  the payments, he declined to give a definite answer, replying he was the Speaker until Midnight on Nov. 22.

House Republicans also held a “workplace behavior” seminar after McCall formally became speak-elect. The seminar was derided by Inman who said it showed House Republicans were aware of similar sexual harassment issues.

“To this point there's been no reason to believe that my caucus needs that,” Inman said when asked if he would hold a similar seminar for Democrats. “The men and women of the Democratic Caucus, we believe, act above reproach when it comes to these issues and it's unfortunate that this stain be brought upon the House of Representatives.”

Inman, however, did agree that holding a seminar would be a “good idea.”

“It's very disturbing and upsetting to me,” Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City) said, echoing the Minority Leader.

Dunnignton said he had several former LA’s reach out to him with similar stories of being let go for complaints of sexual harassment.

“When you have these kinds of things take place in the Capitol and especially when they're covered up. And when you wait until after an election making them political; yeah it's a big problem,” he said.

Inman and the Democrats did not call for Kirby’s resignation but asked whether he would receive some kind of punishment. Inman criticized the house republicans for not condemning Kirby alongside their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

“None of the 75 members of the Oklahoma Republican caucus today, not one of them, not one of them has come out and condemned the allegations that have taken place here,” he said raising his voice slightly.

Democrats also said they'll be pushing for increased transparency at the Capitol, putting lawmakers on notice a rule change may be in the works in the upcoming session.

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