Take Shelter Oklahoma Asks High Court To Dismiss Pruitt On Ballot Initiative

Wednesday, November 6th 2013, 6:09 pm
By: News 9

Take Shelter Oklahoma filed a second lawsuit against Attorney General Scott Pruitt Wednesday in a fight to add storm shelters to every Oklahoma school. Now, supporters want the Oklahoma Supreme Court to take away Scott Pruitt's power to alter the storm shelter ballot initiative.

The fight between the group and Pruitt began over Pruitt's wording on a proposed ballot that would add storm shelters to every Oklahoma school. Supporters say the wording was political in nature and focused more on a tax increase than the shelters. Claims of additional political interference had plaintiff lawyers back at court Wednesday.

Related Link 9/24/2013: Group Collecting Signatures To Put Shelters In OK Schools

Danni Legg, who lost her son at Plaza Towers, says unfortunately, this is a fight about money -- a $500 million tax on businesses to keep children safe.

"This is a no brainer," Legg said. "Either our children are safe or they're not safe … it was proven that day, May 20th, that our children were not safe in those schools."

Now, Take Shelter Oklahoma is asking the high court to give supporters 90 more days to gather signatures before Oklahomans can vote. Also, lawyers are asking the court to dismiss Pruitt from his duties of giving legal interpretation on the ballot initiative.

Related Link 10/28/2013:  Battle Over School Storm Shelter Initiative Enters Hearing At OK Supreme Court

"[Pruitt] filed it on the seventh day, not the fifth day … that [is] legal for, he's out of time," State Rep. Richard Morrissette of Oklahoma City said.

Take Shelter Oklahoma attorney David Slane says Pruitt has caused public confusion over the matter by rewriting the ballot. Slane also says Pruitt has close ties to the State Chamber of Commerce, which is opposed to the tax proposed to fund the shelters.

"We believe [Pruitt] took their money," Slane said. "He's taking their marching orders from them, and we want him off this case."

Pruitt's office released the following statement on Wednesday's ballot title filing.

"As a parent, I commend those trying to find a way to protect Oklahoma students from severe and dangerous weather, and changes to this proposal should not be considered an opinion for or against their efforts. I, along with our senior attorneys, reviewed the proposed language as we do with every ballot title. We found it did not comply with the law, and then, as required, submitted a revised ballot title to the Secretary of State. The attorneys in my office are hard-working, professional public servants who work every day to enforce and uphold the rule of law; to assail their commitment as politically motivated is untruthful and just silly." -Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Gov. Mary Fallin says she supports efforts to put storm shelters in schools but is concerned on how to pay for it. Legg says money should not be an issue.

"[We're] missing his football games … over money," Legg explained, as she attempted to hold back tears. "Over money that the legislators are bickering about."

Oral arguments at the Supreme Court are set for December 18, 2013. Shelter supporters will need 155,000 signatures by December 16. Supporters were reporting more than 60,000 signatures as of late Wednesday.