Walking through the Oklahoma State Capitol on Thursday afternoon, I could easily overhear conversations about Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa).
“Just terrible,” said one woman to another.
Others agreed, while some had not yet heard: The House Rules Committee released its findings about Kirby’s alleged sexual harassment of two legislative assistants. The recommendation was for Kirby’s expulsion from the House.
Absent from these uneasy conversations was the also-announced fate of Rep. Will Fourkiller (D-Stilwell), accused in his own right of harassing a female high school student to the point of formal reprimand: a directive from the Rules Committee that he be prohibited from contact with the teenagers who comprise the Legislature’s “page” program.
‘It’s pretty widely known’
The details of the House committee’s investigations into Kirby and Fourkiller are complex and lurid, and the investigation committee’s entire PDF released Thursday is embedded below. It includes blacked-out topless selfies sent by a legislative assistant to Kirby, as well as details about the absurd yet mildly effective attempts by the two men to obfuscate the investigations against them.
What the report does not include is cooperation from Fourkiller, who refused to participate in the proceedings.
Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Josh Cockroft (R-Wanette) said Thursday during a press conference that Fourkiller “did not admit or deny that he made the statements” when speaking to House counsel about the young woman’s complaint in 2015.
So while Kirby now faces expulsion from the Legislature, Fourkiller simply has to attend a one-on-one sexual-harassment sensitivity training and stay away from teenage girls in the People’s House.
All in all, one might think Fourkiller got off easy by clamming up.
Too bad for him, both Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature were willing to talk behind his back.
“Fourkiller has been known for that kind of behavior in the past,” said one House member who expressed exasperation about the whole saga. “It’s pretty widely known. Nobody was shocked when his name was added to this investigation.”
That member and others spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Others, like Cockroft, spoke on the record, criticizing Fourkiller’s call for “transparency” during the investigation even though he would not agree to talk to the committee or release the memo detailing the page’s allegation.
“Everything would have changed at that point,” Cockroft said about why he wanted Fourkiller to play ball. “I can say it probably would have been different, whether more severe or less severe, I don’t know.”
A culture ‘that needs to be dealt with’
Other members who spoke anonymously or on background expressed disgust at Fourkiller’s reputation and the remarks he was accused of having made.
Those remarks concerned a teenage girl’s backside. Members also said it was not the first time Fourkiller had crossed a line with a teenager.
“There’s been more than one legislative assistant who has called out his behavior around high school pages,” a member said on the condition of anonymity.
House members of both parties said Fourkiller’s behavior around the pages had even become a topic of bipartisan conversation, with legislators keeping an eye on the man they felt was crossing lines with teenagers.
One member said the sagas of Fourkiller and Kirby represent a broader problem at the State Capitol.
“I think we have a culture of under-handed sexual harassment that needs to be dealt with,” the member said.
While the House may vote as early as next week to deal with Kirby by expelling him from office, a watchful eye should be paid to Fourkiller, lest he prove himself unable to follow the House’s new rule for him: Stay away from the teens, creep.