Two Oklahoma lawmakers charged with bribery

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A state representative in Oklahoma and a former state senator there have been charged with bribery, over a scheme in which the state senator was to withdraw her candidacy in an upcoming election, so that a friend of the representative could run for her seat.

The politicians were charged under a 1974 that says offering a candidate a job, to induce them to drop out of a race, is bribery.

Prosecutors claim that Rep. Randy Terrill and Sen. Debbe Leftwich worked together to attempt to create an $80,000 position in the medical examiner’s office, specifically intended for Leftwich.  They allege Terrill used “political influence and intimidation” to try to force the appointment.

Both Terrill and Leftwich met with the chief administrator Tom Jordan, along with aide, Cherokee Ballard, about the prospective position. Both Jordan and Ballard said they were “pressured to hire Leftwich” and felt “something dirty was happening.”

The position was to be a newly-created one as a “transition” coordinator, lasting for up to three years. The job would involve helping move the medical examiner’s operations from Norman to Edmond. Gov. Brad Henry later vetoed the position saying it was highly paid and “entirely unnecessary in the operation.”

Terril’s friend, Rep. Mike Christian was interested in the seat held by Leftwich, but did not want to run against an incumbent. After Leftwich announced that she woulding be re-running for office, and while Terrill and Leftwich were attempting to secure the job in the medical examiner’s office, Christian announced that he would be running for her seat. Once the investigation was announced this summer, he ran for re-election to his House seat instead and won.

The state constitution also prevents lawmakers from working for a state agency within two years of leaving office, unless the job is privately funded or uses federal funds. Terrill attempted to work around this restriction by planning to have it underwritten using fees collected by a newly-formed narcotics bureau fund.

Prosecutors said that Terrill once told the head of the narcotics bureau hat “he could do anything he wanted with the money’ from the fund.

In convicted, the lawmakers face a fine of $1,000 and up to two tears in prison.

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