(Update: As of the morning of Thursday, March 16, Sen. Ralph Shortey has been charged with three prostitution-related counts.)
The Oklahoma Senate passed a resolution this afternoon stripping Sen. Ralph Shortey of numerous privileges amid news that Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn may charge him with a crime.
KOCO reported earlier Wednesday that Moore police have recommended three prostitution-related charges against Shortey (R-OKC) after investigating his involvement with a teenage boy in a Super 8 Motel earlier this month.
Senate Resolution 7 passed 43 to 0 around 2:30 p.m., suspending Shortey for “disorderly behavior.”
(…) pursuant to the provisions of Section 30 of Article V of the Oklahoma Constitution and pursuant to the rules of the Oklahoma State Senate, the Senate hereby imposes the following punishment upon Senator Ralph Shortey for disorderly behavior: 1. Senator Shortey’s positions as vice-chair of the Committee on Energy and the Subcommittee on Select Agencies of the Appropriations Committee are hereby suspended;
The measure strips Shortey of his committee positions, his work office, his legislative assistant, his parking space and his right to author any legislation currently before the Legislature, among other things. The resolution also states that Shortey may not sponsor any high school pages.
Shortey did not appear in the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday, nor has he issued a statement about the situation since The Oklahoman’s Nolan Clay broke news of the investigation Tuesday afternoon. Shortey had been at the Capitol earlier that day.
Oklahoma GOP Chairwoman Pam Pollard has released a statement, which said she also has not heard from Shortey on the matter:
The Oklahoma Republican Party takes all accusations against elected officials seriously, especially when the welfare of a minor is involved. We have reached out to Senator Shortey for comment and have not heard back from him at this time. We await the report from law enforcement on whether charges will be filed.
History of SD 44 shame
Citizens in Shortey’s south Oklahoma City district are also awaiting details on the investigation. With the second-term senator suspended from his seat, Senate District 44 effectively becomes the third legislative district this year to lose its representation.
Shortey becomes the second member involved in some sort of a scandal.
Ironically, Shortey spent the first month of 2017 providing political advice to now-resigned Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa) who faced allegations of sexual harassment before announcing his resignation, twice. With Kirby’s departure, Tulsa residents of House District 75 have been without representation in the Legislature’s lower chamber this session.
With Shortey’s legislative tenure in limbo at best — he remains technically in office — residents of southwest OKC’s Senate District 44 again find their Capitol representation embroiled in scandal.
Shortey was first elected in 2010 after Democratic Sen. Debbe Leftwich announced she would not seek re-election. A judge ultimately found Leftwich guilty of accepting a bribe — to fill a newly created state position — in exchange for not seeking office. Then-Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore was also found guilty in the scheme. He served prison time, while Leftwich’s sentence was deferred.
Prosecutors and onlookers initially believed that Terrill had asked Leftwich to vacate her seat so that then-Rep. Mike Christian could jump to the upper chamber in the 2010 election. But when word spread of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s investigation into the situation, Christian chose to remain the House, where he served until a 2016 run for Oklahoma County Sheriff.
Christian lost that race but is running again this spring owing to the resignation of longtime sheriff John Whetsel. Christian had been advised in his 2016 sheriff campaign by Shortey, who received a letter of rebuke from the state Republican Party for unauthorized use of images implying endorsement from federal GOP officeholders.
Christian and Shortey also served together on then-candidate Donald Trump’s statewide leadership team in Oklahoma. The pair took the stage together prior to Trump’s remarks at an Oklahoma State Fair rally in September 2015.