Rep. Dan Kirby Criticizes Investigation, Refuses To Testify Before House Committee

<p>The state representative at the center of a House investigation into sexual harassment complaints at the Capitol, a process he had vocally supported, is now refusing to testify.</p>

Monday, January 23rd 2017, 7:34 pm

The state representative at the center of a House investigation into sexual harassment complaints at the Capitol, a process he had vocally supported, is now refusing to testify.

Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, says the committee conducting the investigation has not provided him with documents he needs to prepare his testimony, limiting his ability to defend himself. He also says he opposes the "closed nature" of the meetings.

"Until the committee can guarantee a fair process," Kirby stated. "I can not [sic] subject myself to a blind interrogation.”

The House Rules committee, which is conducting the investigation at the request of House Speaker Charles McCall, has conducted the majority of its business in executive session. Committee Chairman Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, says privacy is necessary, due to the sensitive nature of some of the information being shared, and that it's important not to discourage others who might want to bring similar information forward.

Kirby has been the subject of two sexual harassment complaints in the last 18 months, both filed by former legislative assistants. In the first complaint, filed in September 2015, investigators determined there was no merit to the case.

The employee was terminated two months later, former Speaker Jeff Hickman says, for reasons unrelated to the sexual harassment complaint. Nevertheless, the employee filed a wrongful termination complaint, which, Hickman has stated, he decided to settle, due to complicating factors that promised to make the case far more expensive to try than to settle.

Word of the $44,500 settlement, finalized in November, surfaced a month later and caused outrage among taxpayers and lawmakers. One result was the new Speaker's call for an investigation, which has now been ongoing for two weeks.

In the course of the investigation, information related to a second harassment complaint, filed last summer, became public. Kirby has said the allegations leveled against him in that case, which include demanding the woman text him nude photos of herself, have been made out of context, and that the two had a consensual relationship.

But now, instead of stating his case to the committee, Kirby laid out the reasoning for his decision not to appear in a detailed release e-mailed to members of the media this morning by the political consulting firm, Precision Strategy Group. In the firm's online filing records with the Secretary of State, State Senator Ralph Shortey is listed as the registered agent.

“I supported the committee and looked forward to the opportunity to defend myself and restore my reputation," Kirby said in the release. "However, I support an open, transparent, and fair process like anyone accused of wrongdoing would be allowed.”

Among the reasons Kirby believes the process is not fair:

--despite committee rules allowing for his attorney and him to be present at the questioning of other witnesses...neither he nor his attorney were notified and allowed to be present during the questioning of witnesses

--despite requests made to the Committee’s attorney, Representative Kirby and his attorney have not been provided with any documents which the committee has been given and may rely upon and therefore he has had to rely solely upon the information given to, and disclosed by, the press to even have an understanding of the substance of the allegations against him

--Representative Kirby made a specific request for a list of witnesses and the results of any investigation the House has already completed and was refused access

Kirby also stated that the closed nature of these meetings only allows false accusations to be hidden and go unchallenged by the public. Stating that his accusers do not have to face the public like he does and therefore can use the closed meetings to propagate false narratives which he then must answer openly.

In response, committee chair Cockroft released this statement:

Rep. Kirby has been offered every document the Committee believed he could be provided without compromising confidential information. What Rep. Kirby seems to want is the opportunity to cross-examine his accusers, and that is simply not going to happen. Allowing that would discourage future victims from coming forward. It was explained to Rep. Kirby that this process is closed to protect the victims, not the elected officials. I don’t understand Rep. Kirby’s confusion. There is no mystery as to what we are investigating here. The allegations, his own words and his text messages have been published in detail in the The Oklahoman. Most of the evidence relating to Rep. Kirby has already been made public. He claims he did nothing wrong. That claim is inconsistent with the allegations. We just want him to appear before the Committee and answer the allegations. If he believes he did nothing wrong, he has nothing to hide. If he chooses to not appear before the Committee, that is his prerogative; However, we are going to continue our investigation with or without him and release our findings and recommendations to the public.


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