It's been about 11 days since the Sooner Tea Party first broke the story of a young female legislator's harassment and molestation narrative. Al Gerhart provided quotes and even audio clips which depict a frat house atmosphere at some legislative events, both official and unofficial.
But today a development occurred which verifies an official investigation is now commencing. Rick Rose, an associate of Speaker Charles McCall directed Mr. Al Gerhart to correspond directly with Atty. Chelsea Smith with any more evidence or other correspondence.
Scandal Causing Wear on Conservative Alliances
The sexual harassment/sexual battery scandal at the Capitol is causing a lot of frustration between conservative factions as the frustration builds at House leadership's lack of visible action or public acknowledgment of the scandals, leaving many unsure if anything will be done to protect the women that have to work and visit the Capitol. These are serious allegations and they should deserve a rapid response on leadership's part if for no other reason than to quell rumors and displace rumors with solid information.
There are two camps that are apparent, both have good intentions. The first includes the Sooner Tea Party headed by Al Gerhart, someone known more as a pit bull than known for patience and finesse.
The other camp is represented by more moderate Republicans like the newly elected GOP Vice Chairman Mike Turner. In fact, Turner had called Gerhart on Monday morning requesting that patience & more time be given to the Speaker and House staff to sort out the allegations. Sparks flew apparently, enough that I received a phone call around lunch, being asked to smooth over some misunderstandings and get negotiations going again.
OKGOP, at the Legislature
State Vice Chair, Mike Turner, has to work with the legislature and as a former House member knows the system better and has more confidence in the people in charge.
All ended well this afternoon. Gerhart received an email from House Staff announcing that outside counsel had been appointed and existing evidence (including the audio files Gerheat sent to the Speaker's office) had been turned over to the special council; to conduct an independent investigation. The email instructed Gerhart to forward future information on the allegations directly to attorney Chelsea Smith.
About Chelsea Smith
Chelsea Smith works at Fellers and Snider, an Oklahoma City law firm. Smith's bio page at the firm's website claims that she serves as acting General Counsel for the House of Representatives and had served as in-house General Counsel for the House. She is an expert in employment law and government ethics.
Will the Cases Be Thoroughly Dealt With?
Gerhart put a lot on the line, for this story. It was frustrating for him that days went on with no action being announced. I asked Gerhart if today's developments gave him any restored faith in the process.
“You know, Turner was right it seems. The guy is responsible for keeping peace and has to work with McCall, Echols, and the rest of the legislature. It was just difficult at the time to trust in an institution that has seen scandal after scandal exposed by the Sooner Tea Party and nothing done. Maybe his trust in McCall is warranted. I just hate to see women treated this way, and get away with it.“
Another phone call at 4:30pm smoothed over the rough edges between the two men.
If the Republican Party is going to bring everyone together for the 2020 elections a lot of trust is going to have to be shown by both sides.