The Oklahoma News reports that 58 year old Tulsa State Rep. Dan Kirby was facing charges that he repeatedly sexually harassed his 28 year old female Legislative Asst.. Hollie Bishop, a Muskogee native, says she endured nearly a year of inappropriate pressure from the middle-aged politician.
Dan Kirby was recently re-elected to his seat, representing Northeast Tulsa. Only after the election was secured, did the yet-unknown state official, approve spending tens of thousands of dollars to both Ms. Bishop & her legal team.
Termed-out former Speaker, Jeff Hickman, has previously been harshly criticized for covering up abuses of other Republicans in the House. The funds payment came from an account designated to cover the expenses of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. It adds to the bloated expenses that the Republican House tacks on the the annual state budget. Oklahoma now faces more than a $600 million dollar budget deficit.
Kirby, first elected in 2008, did not respond to repeated requests for comment made by phone and email over the last week.
Bishop's main attorney, Justin Meek, told The Oklahoman he could not discuss the employment matter.
"The only comment I can provide is that the matter has been resolved and concluded," he said Tuesday. "Ms. Bishop ... relocated from the Oklahoma City area, started a new career and is happy with her life. She is a great person with a bright future."
The Oklahoman further reports:
The settlement came before any lawsuit was filed. A written demand for compensation for harassment and wrongful termination was made to the state House in January.
"Rep. Kirby's actions were unwanted, unwarranted and continued throughout Ms. Bishop's employment and created a hostile work environment," Meek wrote in the demand, known as a tort claim.
Bishop reported Kirby's actions on Sept. 21, 2015, to the House human resources director and to the House general counsel, the attorney wrote. She stated she was not comfortable working for Kirby and requested that she be reassigned to another representative.
She was promised the matter would be properly handled and told she could not be fired for reporting the harassment, the attorney wrote.
"However ... Rep. Kirby started ignoring all communications from Ms. Bishop and otherwise retaliated by attempting to prevent her from performing her job duties exactly as she had prior to reporting the harassment," the attorney wrote.
When she was fired, "she was only told it was in the best interests of the House of Representatives that she not be told the reasons for termination," the attorney wrote.
Bishop first became a legislative assistant at the Capitol in January 2013. She worked for Rep. Randy Grau before becoming Kirby's legislative assistant. Grau is no longer in the House. Read the full report at the Oklahoman.
There remains little doubt that the termination of Bishop, by the House management, was tied to her conflicts with Rep. Kirby. What is astonishing is the very pathetic practice of Hickman's leadership. Particularly his tendancy of covering up misconduct by Republican House members. Clearly Bishop was punished for reporting illegal activity by Kirby (tort law covers sexual harassment and retribution in the workplace). Clearly the house management refused to give a reason for the termination, which suggests they are fearful of leaving a paper trail. Clearly, Ms. Bishop's career plans in government services was crushed by this poor management of the workplace.
Negotiations with Bishop's legal team was kept secret throughout the last election cycle. Constituents were deliberately kept in the dark about the professional conduct (or lack thereof) of Dan Kirby. this led to his re-election to another 2 years in his lackluster legislative legacy. Kirby scored a mere 22 in the 2016 Conservative Index, this past session. In contrast, Democat Eric Proctor scored a 66 for the same session.
"I am of course disappointed that the voters have put into play, once again, somebody who does not reflect Oklahoma values," Karen Gaddis said Tuesday. Gaddis is the Democrat nominee who was defeated by Kirby, last month.
This is not Kirby's only bad bit of scandal. the Lost Ogle reports that he got into a "drunken bar room brawl" at a lobbyist's Sine Die party, on Tuesday, May 7th, of 2015.
" Over the weekend, we received word through the Ogle Mole Network that a pair of Republican state Reps – Dan Kirby and James Leewright – got into a run-of-the-mill bar fight last week at The Barrel on N. Western. No arrests were made or charges filed.
The altercation “allegedly” occurred the night of Tuesday, May 7th, during a “Sine Die” party hosted by prominent lobbyist Gary Huddleston. It’s an annual boozefest where lawmakers, lobbyists and other politicos gather to celebrate the end of the legislative session, and how they’re screwing over everyday Oklahomans for the sake of the religious right, energy industry, and other corporate interests.
I spoke with one Ogle Mole who witnessed the fight. The Mole claims Rep. Leewright, a freshman state rep from the Tulsa area, was standing with a group of girls outside the restrooms, chumming it up like some big shot. At the same time, Rep. Dan Kirby walked out of the men’s room. Apparently something happened and / or words were said, and before you know it, a little squabble broke out.
Here’s how a Mole described it:
“Leewright pushed Kirby, and then Kirby punched Leewright. There were some smaller females in-between them. The men were swinging over them. The whole thing was pathetic. People were laughing it was so bad.”
Read the Lost Ogle's full report.
James Leewright and his wife Cari are currently friends of Ms. Bishop, on social media. Several other lawmakers and staff are, as well. Rep. Kirby is not.