Challenge Filed Against OK Governor Candidate With Past Felony

Tuesday, April 15th 2014, 10:57 pm
By: News 9

Before a single vote is cast, one candidate for governor is challenging whether two opponents can even be in the race.

State Representative Joe Dorman said one of them can't legally run for office, because he pleaded guilty in a felony 14 years ago.

He's a 34-year-old motorcyclist who said his top priority, if elected governor, would be to legalize marijuana. But in 1999, Joe Sills pleaded guilty to a felony crime of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

"There are individuals out there who don't understand the guidelines that are in place," Representative Joe Dorman said.

Democrat Joe Dorman is one of six candidates running against Governor Mary Fallin. He's challenging two of his opponents, Kimberly Willis and Joe Sills.

Dorman alleges Willis was not a registered independent for the amount of time required by law and said Sills pleaded guilty to a felony.

"Mr. Sills plead guilty to a felony, and the law established that within that 15-year window, you are not allowed to be a candidate for office," Dorman said.

Court documents show Sills pleaded guilty to that felony charge on April 19, 2000. According to state election officials, Sills arrived at the state capitol to file for his candidacy for governor in a leather jacket and a backwards camouflage hat.

Sills clearly marked on his declaration of candidacy form in the criminal history disclosure section, he had not been guilty of a misdemeanor involving embezzlement or a felony.

"I reached out to him yesterday to discuss this, and it was a very brief conversation," Dorman said.

Sills said he was surprised by Dorman's challenge and thought the question on the candidacy form applied only to embezzlement-related crimes.

He now plans to contest Dorman's challenge.

The state election board will ultimately make the decision on whether Sills and Willis can run for governor. That decision is expected to be made Monday morning.