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Grand Ol' Party? Oklahoma GOP suffers string of scandals as legislators indicted

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Left to Right: Bryce Marlatt, Ralph Shortey, Kyle Loveless, Dan Kirby, and Will Fourkiller
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NORMAN, Okla.- The Oklahoma GOP can’t seem to keep its legislators in line if the streak of criminal conduct during the past few years is any indication. 

On September 6th, State Senator Bryce Marlatt was charged with sexual battery after being accused of assaulting an Uber driver en route to a bar in Oklahoma City.  According to the victim, she observed him stumble to her car when picking him up.  He then allegedly complimented her bosom in the manner expected of an intoxicated imbecile. He then allegedly moved behind her seat and then attempted to kiss her.  The driver was able to garner enough information from the passenger in order to identify him.  She proceeded to rightfully file a police report against the lecherous legislator which culminated in last week’s charges, which could be punished with up to 10 years in prison.  It’s not his first run-in with the law as a state legislator.  In 2014 he pleaded no contest after being found asleep in his pickup, smelling of alcohol.

Former state Senator Ralph Shortey faced indictment on September 6th by a federal grand jury involving child pornography and sex trafficking.  He had been arraigned on state charges in March on three counts, including child prostitution, prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution, after he was allegedly found in a dank motel room with a 17-year-old boy in March of this year.  He allegedly solicited sex from the teen online before picking him up and driving him to the motel.  The state charges will be dismissed by Cleveland County DA Greg Mashburn in light of the federal charges.  Shortey faces mandatory minimum sentences if convicted, which range from five years to life in prison.  He resigned six days after the state charges were brought against him.

Asset forfeiture opponent Kyle Loveless abruptly resigned from his Senate seat in April of this year, after accusation emerged of embezzling campaign funds.

Tulsa Republican Rep. Dan Kirby resigned from the legislature in February after sexual harassment accusations surfaced, in which he allegedly demanded nude photos from staffers.

And finally, Rep. Will Fourkiller was sanctioned by a House committee after allegations surfaced of inappropriate comments made to a House page.

These are grown men, over thirty years of age, powerful politicians with families, who also wear a mask of respectability while navigating polite society.  One wonders how they thought they could get away with such behavior while serving in the legislature.  The bigger question, especially for Shortey and Marlatt, is how they were able to win an election in the first place.  Some people are better actors than others, but that still doesn’t explain how an alleged child predator could sneak his way into a position of great political power in the state. 

Nevertheless, it’s been one embarrassment after another for the party.  One can only imagine what’s next.  

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Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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