After a weeks-long investigation that ended with a recommended expulsion, Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, announced he will be resigning, avoiding a potentially damaging floor vote.
The announcement was made in a statement via a private consulting firm with which Kirby has been working. The firm, Precision Strategy Group, has been sending releases on Kirby’s behalf. State Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, is listed as an agent for the firm.
Kirby’s letter was sent to both the speaker’s and the governor’s offices, according to Speaker of the House Charles McCall’s office.
Both the official letter, obtained by News 9, and a source within McCall’s office said the resignation is “irrevocable.” McCall declined to comment immediately on the resignation.
Kirby had been accused of sexually harassing two former aides. One of which he shared explicit text messages and solicited topless photos. He said the two shared a relationship, his aide denied that to the committee.
The other former assistant was paid a settlement of $44,500 after claiming she was wrongfully terminated. The payout came from state coffers and was approved by former House Speaker Jeff Hickman.
In his statement, Kirby said, "I cannot in good conscience, continue to fight against the unfounded accusations and what I believe to be unreasonable committee recommendations … The Committee has ensured that this would have been a lose-lose situation for me and my district."
Kirby also maintained his innocence multiple times. At one point, he said, "several investigations have concluded that I did nothing wrong."
Instead, the embattled Republican shifted the blame to his accusers, two former legislative assistants, Hickman and the House Rules Committee that recommended his expulsion. That recommendation was the first of its kind on record for the State of Oklahoma.
Kirby has had several flip-flops during this ordeal. He attempted to resign in December when the allegations were first reported but later rescinded saying he received bad advice. During the investigation, he said publicly he would not to testify, calling the investigative committee an “interrogation.”
Less than a week later, he testified after McCall suspended his chairmanship of a prominent committee.
Kirby's resignation still has to be formally accepted and it wouldn't be official until March 1.
Kirby will continue to have a state pension that has built up from his eight-year tenure as a legislator. Rep. John Echols, a member of the investigative committee, said expelling Kirby would not take away his pension and that a representative can only lose their pension if convicted of a felony while in office.
Democrats, both in and outside of the House, expressed mixed emotions about the resignation. House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said in a statement Saturday he felt Kirby did “the right thing” by handing over his resignation and hoped the House would be able to move forward.
However, Inman added Democrats still have questions about how state funds were spent, including how much a private attorney was paid for mediation. Inman alleged that brought the total taxpayer cost to nearly $70,000 dollars.
"We will insist on a genuinely independent investigation into this matter if the information is not revealed in due course," he said.
The Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, Mark Hammond, was less mixed on the resignation. In a statement sent Saturday, he called the investigation “woefully inadequate”
“The committee report has transformed the entire House legislative fund into a giant slush fund,” he said.
The committee report did say the rules committee looked into an independent investigation, but said one could cost between $250,000 to $300,000.