Did House Leadership Just Step on a Land Mine? Will it Explode or Will it be Disarmed?
You’d have to be dead or from Beaver County not to have heard about the investigation of Representatives Kirby and Fourkiller concerning misbehaving with the females down at the Capitol. New Speaker Charles McCall charged the Rules Committee to investigate sexual harassment claims, wrongful termination claims, and a settlement agreement made by outgoing Speaker Hickman.
Fourkiller was blindsided by the charges which allegedly center on a female page reporting that she “felt uncomfortable” about something Fourkiller had said or done, a very weak premises to announce a public investigation upon. House Leadership claims that a formal sexual harassment claim was made to the House Human Resources Department in April of 2015. Once the charges had been filed in 2015 Fourkiller said he was informed of the charges and apologized if he had inadvertently made the girl uncomfortable. The incident appeared to have ended there with no payment made to the girl.
So a committee comprised of select Rules Committee met on Wednesday to adopt rules for the investigation and scheduled the meetings after announcing that the investigation will be done in secrecy. At that point all hell broke loose.
First some background. The House paid Kirby’s former Executive Assistant Hollie Anne Bishop and her attorney $44,500.00 after Bishop started legal action against the House claiming sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Then Speaker Jeff Hickman claimed there was no sexual harassment but paid the settlement, claiming it was cheaper to settle than fight. Hickman also authorized paying an outside attorney to represent the House in the matter despite having a dozen qualified lawyers on staff.
When the payments came to light Rep. Kirby resigned, then rescinded his resignation a few days later, which sources alleged was due to a drinking binge, although it was unclear if the resignation was made under the influence of alcohol or if it was the rescinding of the resignation made under the alleged conditions. Cockcroft appears to be in a rush to settle things, which he calls a “distraction”
When Rep Cockcroft, the Chairman of the special investigating committee, announced the investigation had widened to include Rep. Fourkiller that set a lot of tongues wagging. Below was Cockcroft’s statement on the matter:
“The Special Investigation Committee has been charged with not only investigating the settlement agreement, but – upon request by House Speaker Charles McCall and Minority Leader Scott Inman in his December 23 letter to the Speaker – the Committee has also been charged with investigating any and all formal complaints filed against current House members. There have been formal complaints filed against two current lawmakers: Rep. Dan Kirby, a Republican from Tulsa, and Rep. Will Fourkiller, a Democrat from Stilwell. These complaints will be thoroughly and fairly investigated by the Committee, and the results of those investigations will be made public.
The Committee will meet on Wednesday, January 11 to adopt the special rules that will guide the Committee’s process and to schedule our next actions. In an effort to protect personal information of alleged victims and unelected witnesses, the Committee will conduct its investigation in private; however, the shared goal of all members of this investigation is to present our findings quickly and publicly so that Oklahomans can have confidence that the House of Representatives is a safe, indiscriminate place for employees to work.”
There are several problems with this, and all are intertwined.
First, why did the investigation expand into a case nearly two years old? One that had had no action other than the apology for any inadvertent uncomfortable actions by Fourkiller?
Second, despite the fact that House Minority Leader Scott Inman had asked about former Rep. Randy Grau’s involvement in the Kirby/Bishop scandal in his open letter to House Leadership, why was former Rep. Randy Grau not included in the investigation, an obviously intentional act given that the statement says “any and all formal complaints filed against current” members will be investigated.
Why are past House members exempted and why are any charges or allegations that have yet to be formally filed exempted?
Third, given that Chairman Josh Cockcroft is one of former Rep. Randy Grau’s best friends why was Cockcroft chosen to lead this effort? Cockcroft, Grau, and Elise hall formed a little clique called “The Lunch Bunch” at the Capitol and while three votes sounds like a small number it is huge when you consider that most Speaker races are won or lost by less than three votes.
Fourth, why did House Minority Leader Scott Inman drop off the face of the map after his very public and very aggressive press conference on December 23rd?
At the Wednesday meeting Democrat Rep. David Perryman refused to sign a confidentiality contract that House Leadership demanded in order to be a part of the committee. Upon his refusal to sign the agreement Perryman was forced to leave the room. Perryman said that signing was unethical and that it would undermine his independence as a legislator. House Leadership ordered that the investigation occur behind closed doors and that everything that happens at the meeting will be treated as confidential during the investigation but that some of the confidentiality rules will be lifted after the final report.
Perryman was willing to keep the sexual harassment claims confidential if required by state and federal law but the discussions of House Leadership’s payment hidden in the bookkeeping under Housecleaning and Supplies should be made public.
We have yet to see a full roster of the committee but Perryman, Meloyde Blancett, and Steve Kouplen were to represent the Democrats, with the later two not making the Wednesday meeting due to the short notice given. Rep Terry O’Donnell and Cockcroft are two of the Republican members.
.After Perryman made a fuss the initial meeting to set the rules was opened to the press and public, albeit after telling everyone that the meeting was private so many didn’t attend as they weren’t allowed to attend. Once the rules were voted on and adopted Cockcroft ordered the others out of the room if they had not signed the confidentiality agreement. House Minority Leader Scott Inman was not present and has not commented to the media despite many attempts by the media.
Meanwhile Speaker Charles McCall has hired outside counsel despite the dozen qualified and well paid attorneys on House Staff. The attorney that had handled the initial Kirby/Bishop complaint turned out to be the wife of former House Staff head Chad Worthington, bringing up allegations of cronyism and tainting of the process after picking someone intimately tied into House Leadership. The hiring of Worthington to handle the EEOC complaint of wrongful termination added another $23,651.38 to the $44,500.00 settlement to Bishop. An additional $10,000.00 will be paid to another outside attorney, bringing the total to over $78,000.00 so far.
We said that questions were raised after all of this and the next article will shed light on all:
- First, why did the investigation expand into the Fourkiller case that is nearly two years old?
- Why was former Rep. Randy Grau not included in the investigation?
- Why are past House members exempted?
- Why are any charges or allegations that have yet to be formally filed exempted?
- Chairman Josh Cockcroft is one of former Rep. Randy Grau’s best friends why was Cockcroft chosen to lead this effort?
- Fourth, why did House Minority Leader Scott Inman drop off the face of the map after his very public and very aggressive press conference on December 23rd?
Another huge point is the legality of demanding confidentiality agreements and forcing legislators to sign the contracts or be excluded from the investigation. That will also be addressed in another story in this issue.
Picture shamelessly stolen from the Lost Ogle and yeah, Inman is Alice
Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice
Strange title, I know, but it was a comedy film in the sixties about two couples, one of which had the husband admit to an affair, then coming home early after a business trip and catching his wife in bed with the tennis pro. Both agree that turnabout was fair play and discussed it with the other couple, causing the other man to admit to an affair, causing the other wife to demand a wife swapping foursome. Pretty sordid even for the time so the film didn’t delve into shall we say “details”.
But the name of the film fits this current scandal like a glove, musical beds at the Capitol, with everyone appearing so perverted and corrupt that anything might happen. And what did happen might explain the six major questions left by the previous article.
- Why was Democrat Representative Fourkiller thrown under the buss?Basically in our opinion Scott Inman needed a sacrificial lamb as it appears it was either him or someone else that had to share the pain that Rep. Kirby was about to be subjected too.More on that a bit further down.
- Why was former Rep. Randy Grau not included in the investigation?A better question was why was Grau brought up by Democratic Minority leader Scot Inman in the first place?The woman that hit the$44,500 jackpot, Holly Bishop, had worked for Rep. Randy Grau before Grau left the House.Grau had announced in April of 2016 that he wouldn’t run for re-election, stunning many that knew him well as he had only served six years of the possible 12 years.Grau’s excuse at the time was to spend more time with his hospitalized grandfather, his two sons, and focus on his law practice.The real reason is alleged to be that Grau’s wife, Renee Grau, had pushed him against the wall shortly before he made his announcement and said leave the Capitol or she would be leaving him.
Bishop had joined the Capitol work force in January of 2013, working as Grau’s legislative assistant, and according to wide spread rumors and at least one media report
had a two or three year long affair with Grau. Sources claim that Renee forced Grau to have Bishop reassigned in January of 2015 with Bishop being assigned to Rep. Dan Kirby who promptly began sexually harassing Bishop according to Bishop’s formal complaint. Two things stand out; first that Bishop and Grau were alleged to still be bumping uglies long past that time, with wifey Renee putting the ultimatum down in April of 2016. Bishop, for whatever faults she might or not have, and if these rumors are true was smart enough not to be bumping uglies with both of the men and some would understand someone like Kirby being upset about being the boss but not getting what Grau had been getting. Yuck…. I know…
Most would believe that if this were true, Grau for his part would not be pleased that Kirby could be horn dogging what Grau might think was his own personal cooter (no, not referring to Senator David Holt) . Does this excuse Rep. Kirby’s alleged actions? Absolutely not, but it would certainly explain why the situation developed. When Renee Grau allegedly laid down the law to Rep. Randy Grau he announced that he wouldn’t seek a fourth term as state rep. Grau must have had a change of heart about something because he filed for divorce from his wife
on May 31st
of 2016, only to rescind the suit on June 3rd
. Another three day drinking spree? Did Kirby learn that from Grau?
Some sources claim that the Rep. Grau/Bishop affair was common knowledge and the subject of many a joke. Other sources claim that Grau coached Bishop after Bishop was fired from her House duties in November of 2015, perhaps angling for a nice payoff from the House for alleging that Kirby harassed her. One might believe that Bishop was a bit upset at being booted after filing a formal complaint against Kirby as well as being a little upset with Grau for not preventing the firing. Whatever the truth is wifey Renee Grau was said to have had enough in April of 2016 and allegedly issued her ultimatum.
So why should former Rep. Randy Grau be dragged into the investigation? First as an alleged affair was common knowledge according to many sources, that would be against House rules for Grau to have an affair with a subordinate if it indeed happened.
Second it shows the House being unresponsive to enforcing the rules which puts all women at the Capitol at risk (and some male pages over in the Senate but that is another story). House Leadership’s failure to act on even the allegations over a three year period could mean a frightfully large lawsuit. And being responsive is what the EEOC is all about, the duty to prevent problems and too bad if some eggs get broken doing that
And third, if the rumors and allegations were true and Bishop was actually putting out for Grau that left Bishop in a less secure position, or perhaps a better way to describe it is as more vulnerable to sexual harassment if she had developed a reputation whether it was warranted or not.
Finally if Grau had actually coached Bishop or assisted her in the filing or reporting of the sexual harassment claim then it brings up potential culpability in the settlement as his post as an assistant Floor Leader might have made him privy to details about the settlement or even advocating for a quick settlement without the others on the House Leadership team being aware of his alleged or potential conflict of interest. Some on the team might have thought that they were paying Bishop off to save Rep. Grau, who really knows?
- Why are past House members exempted?Other than the allegations against Grau, what other allegations or settlements are out there against House members that either termed out or decided not to run for office again?How many cases were filed and paid?Including former or at least recent former House members would allow those cases, if any, to be cleaned up.
- Why are any charges or allegations that have yet to be formally filed exempted from the investigation?This is in line with question #3, are there any charges or allegations in existence where formal charges have yet to be filed?Opening things up to all allegations or charges would remove this fig leaf and clean out any perverts being protected.
- Chairman Josh Cockcroft is one of former Rep. Randy Grau’s close friends why was Cockcroft chosen to lead this effort?As Reps. Grau, Elise Hall, and Josh Cockcroft were best of friends, constant lunch buddies, and allies that negotiated with Speaker Charles McCall during the contentious Speaker Designate race in 2016 why would Cockcroft of all people be chosen to head an investigation that should rightly be investigating the allegations against Grau?Was it to prevent Grau from being brought up after House Minority Leader Scott Inman mentioned Rep Randy Grau on December 23rd?The “Lunch Bunch”, Grau, Hall, and Cockcroft, were initially on Rep. Leslie Osborn’s team during the Speaker Designate race.Was covering up the alleged Grau/Bishop affair part of why they dumped Osborn and began supporting McCall?
- And why did House Minority Leader Scott Inman drop off the face of the map after his very public and very aggressive press conference on December 23rd?
Always save the best for last, right? Just like desert…
Our opinion, factoring in all the unanswered questions and tying them into other commonly traded rumors and allegations is that House Minority Leader Scott Inman was blackmailed or coerced into A.) dropping out of the discussion on the sexual harassment investigation and B.) throwing Rep. Fourkiller under the bus to mitigate the damage to the Republican Caucus. Indeed it might have well been “It’s either you or Fourkiller” or it could have been “I’ll give you Fourkiller if you leave me alone.” Only a few know that truth but something happened.
And what was alleged to be in House Minority Leader Scott Inman’s basket of dirty laundry? An alleged affair between Inman and the daughter in law of a legislative assistant that worked for a certain Republican Representative. We omit the name of the state rep for several reasons, one being that their current legislative assistant is a temp, and that if the rumors are indeed true the daughter in law could have or could not have yet crossed the line into a public person. The rumors are wide spread but as with all rumors a bit diverse. Some claim that the woman was some sort of campaign worker for Inman, others claim that the woman was either running, belonging to, or working for an outside expenditure group. If that latter part is true, that if the alleged affair was with a woman that was involved in independent expenditures supporting the Inman campaign, then she will be quickly rooted out and exposed and potentially even prosecuted for campaign law violations as few would believe that there was no campaign collusion between bouts of bumping uglies.
What the rumors do agree upon is that there was an alleged affair and that the mother in law of the woman openly talked about it amongst the other legislative assistances or at least among a few and nature took its course. Some rumors claim the mother in law became upset with the woman, some say she was merely boasting, and yeah, it would be a queer mother in law that boasted about her son being cuckolded. But hey, Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice is alive and well at the State Capitol.
None of the above is hard fact, much of it is likely rumors that are half true or partly true, only a few actually know. But what we do know for a fact is that on December 23rd House Minority Leader Scott Inman was a raging bull:
“The taxpaying citizens of the state of Oklahoma should not have to foot the bill for sexual misconduct,” said Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman Friday.
“At a Capitol news conference, Inman said the Democratic Caucus was “shocked and appalled” to read news reports earlier in the week about allegations that money had been quietly authorized to pay a sexual harassment settlement to a female legislative assistant of Representative Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa.”
And now Scott Inman is as quiet as a mouse……Why?
As to the actual allegations against both Kirby and Fourkiller, in our opinion we are skeptical that either man is guilty or at least wasn’t guilty of picking on innocents. If the investigation doesn’t bring out the exact charges against Fourkiller then politically he is a dead man walking. One would expect Scott Inman to be demanding openness not abetting secrecy unless of course he prefers to avoid talking about the subject of sexual harassment, cover-ups, and affairs entirely for whatever reasons he might have. An open investigation will discharge the legislator’s duties to the women that work at the Capitol and preclude more lawsuits in the future.
Rep Carol Bush all but Called a Liar by a Long Time Friend
(Her Indian name is: A face that would make a train take a dirt road)
Jamison Faught of the Muskogee Politico came up with this gem.
Seems he had contacted the Tulsa Voice after the disastrous interview Bush gave last month where she attacked Christians, John Bennett, Donald Trump, and the entire Republican Caucus. We had reached out through the article’s comments section with no response. Faught however received a response:
“Joshua Kline, editor of TheTulsaVoice.com
, responded to Bush's claim with this statement:
"We stand by Barry Friedman's story, which presented Rep. Bush in her own words. Bush is welcome to contact us directly if she seriously believes she was misquoted or "taken out of context." We'd be happy to go over the audio with her and sort this whole thing out."
Recall that Barry Friedman was a friend of Rep. Carol Bush for around 35 years, a close friendship, you could tell by reading the article. Bush was such an idiot that she ran her mouth though without a thought in the world about who she would offend or make into an enemy. She was speaking from her heart though, pro abortion, pro assisted suicide, anti Christian, a complete and total traitor to the voters in that Republican primary that chose her over a decent conservative man.
Even better was seeing the true form of a liberal, Barry Friedman, destroying the very traitor that he helped put in place. So intent of making a fool out of the average Oklahoman, the average Christian, and all that they look up to and respect. All we can say is “Slick move, exlax.)
A Letter from a Reader:
Certainly glad the taxpayers have such deep pockets. I think I can count 12 well compensated House staff attorneys off the top of my head. Apparently that isn’t good enough and they have to spend additional taxpayer funds to hire outside counsel ?
Sue Ann Derr
Is House Leadership Breaking Federal Law?
While discussing the secretive investigating committee formed by House Leadership over on a Facebook group called Sooner Politics we must have touched a sore nerve as the Vice Chairman of the committee showed up and politely tried to tell us that things were fine, that secrecy was demanded by federal and state law, and that the dirty old Democrats were making political hay out of the situation.
The Vice Chair, Kevin West, assured all of us that everything was fine and as above board as possible. In return we asked him to reply specifically, point by point, to Rep. Perryman’s list of objections. The discussion which you can read at this link,
went on for the better part of a day and even Floor Leader Rep. Jon Echols was kind enough to reply to questions.
Rep. West first brought up the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and it was his opinion as well as House Leadership that they were bound by confidentiality rules and laws through the EEOC. But both are wrong, House Leadership cannot hide behind this law. Here is what the EEOC says about privacy in investigations:
“An employer should make clear to employees that it will protect the confidentiality of harassment allegations to the extent possible. An employer cannot guarantee complete confidentiality, since it cannot conduct an effective investigation without revealing certain information to the alleged harasser and potential witnesses. However, information about the allegation of harassment should be shared only with those who need to know about it. Records relating to harassment complaints should be kept confidential on the same basis.
A conflict between an employee’s desire for confidentiality and the employer’s duty to investigate may arise if an employee informs a supervisor about alleged harassment, but asks him or her to keep the matter confidential and take no action. Inaction by the supervisor in such circumstances could lead to employer liability. While it may seem reasonable to let the employee determine whether to pursue a complaint, the employer must discharge its duty to prevent and correct harassment. One mechanism to help avoid such conflicts would be for the employer to set up an informational phone line which employees can use to discuss questions or concerns about harassment on an anonymous basis.”
As you can see the employee that makes allegations has zero control as the employers ‘responsibility is to prevent such acts from occurring in the future by promptly dealing with any case that comes up.
Next we were told that the EEOC did prevent any of the information from being released accompanied by a link to the EEOC website policy on privacy. Which once followed and read provided the facts above and this to boot:
“The EEOC takes privacy seriously, but this does not mean that your information will stay private as this often depends on the employee and the choices made during the EEOC process.
If the employee decides to take part in a lawsuit either individually or within a class-action lawsuit, personal information could be made publicly available either within news stories or within the written judgement of the court.
Even if an employees name is not made public, many people post sensitive and personal details on social media to family and friends which can easily be made public online either on purpose or by mistake.
Once public, its difficult to remove the information from the internet. As with all online communication, only post information you don’t mind sharing with a current or future employer.”
The point being that while the EEOC would not release info, meaning the House itself might not be able to release info in an official EEOC case, once a legal case was filed everything became Open Records. Not only that but we had also been told that this was not an EEOC investigation, that it was House members disciplining other House members. Game, set, match…
But I had laid an Easter egg for Rep. West, remarking about the NLRB decisions and sure enough House Leadership came back with the very case I had hinted at, the Banner Decision which is summarized here
and Rep. West said their privacy rulings followed his understanding of the Banner Decision.
The major issue is that House Leadership, represented by Rep. West and Rep. Cockcroft, are demanding secrecy and forced the other representatives to sign contracts stating they will keep things confidential. Both West and Echols were in our opinion, mistaken in thinking that they could demand confidentiality statements to be signed but in fact they violated a NLRB ruling called the Banner Decision, which delineated earlier NLRB decisions that prohibited employers from muzzling their employees.
The National Labor Relations Board covers both union and non union workers and private workers. Whether state, and federal workers are covered depends upon their organization meeting the requirements of this court decision Smith v. Regional Transit Authority
, __ F. Supp. 2d __ (E.D. La. May 10, 2013) [PDF] (whether the entity was created directly by the state, so as to constitute a department or “administrative arm” of the government, or whether it was merely administered by individuals responsible to public officials or the general electorate).
There is the legal basis for House Leadership to follow the Banner Decision. Is this committee an “administrative arm of the state or is it administered by individuals responsible to the general electorate? We all know the answer to that question, the committee is administered by individuals responsible to the general electorate. And it was created by public officials, the Speaker of the House and the Majority leader who are themselves responsible to the general electorate.
But putting the legalese aside House Leadership responded that their secrecy meets the NLRB standards which it should even if the legislature was exempt. If they are to meet this good standard they
are going to have to prove “objectively reasonable grounds for believing that the integrity of the investigation will be compromised without confidentiality” and that “feared consequences would likely occur without confidentiality.” Too meet those goals there are five elements that MUST be met on objectively reasonable grounds:
• Witnesses need protection;
• Evidence is in danger of being destroyed;
• Testimony is in danger of being fabricated;
• There is a need to prevent a cover up; and
• A corruption of the investigation would likely occur without confidentiality.
So in effect neither the EEOC or any other state or federal law is going to prevent the release of the details of the investigation and House Leadership has almost certainly broken federal law by demanding secrecy where the NLRB has said no secrecy is allowed, or even to be suggested. No one is advocating the release of the name of the young female page but Holly Bishop outed herself by hiring a lawyer and coercing money from House Leadership.
The investigation had better open to the public or the stench will never go away and Speaker Charles McCall will have impaled himself upon the stake of cronyism and cover up.