“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.
A series of stories by Nolan Clay in The Oklahoman and further reports by KWTV-9 have pointed to what appears to have been a $44,500 settlement being paid from taxpayer funds and then hidden in an unrelated line item of the House budget.
Inman referred to the payment as “hush money.”
The news reports say that the money expended from the House budget was taken from the “Housecleaning and Supplies” line item, giving the distinct impression that the payment was intended to be hidden.
Specifically, the letter calls for the House to “authorize an independent investigation,” and for Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones to “audit House finances.”
Inman called using the “Housecleaning and Supplies” line item for such an expenditure “unprecedented and unconscionable.” He said, “It really reeks of an attempt to hide this payment.”
Reports say that Kirby, 58, had been accused of sexual harassment by his legislative assistant, Hollie Anne Bishop, 28, and that House Speaker Jeff Hickman had approved spending $44,500 of taxpayer funds to settle the complaint.
Inman read through the list of 21 questions that the Democratic Caucus want incoming Speaker Charles McCall to answer. The questions asked for information on the situation itself, what Speaker Hickman had done, and how money was spent.
In one part of the letter, Inman called on the new House speaker to take action to bring the whole matter into public view.
Inman expressed his highest regard for Speaker-elect McCall referring to him as “a friend of mine.”
“It’s my hope that because he wasn’t speaker at the time he can open this process up, shed some light on this situation and not have to worry about any of it blowing back on him,” Inman said.
Read the full letter below:Dem Caucus Let to McCall -