An internal investigation by the Oklahoma House of Representatives was “unable to substantiate” an allegation of sexual misconduct against Rep. Chris Kannady and Rep. Kevin McDugle, according to an attorney hired by the House.
Posts by conservative activist Al Gerhart on his Sooner Tea Party blog have accused Kannady (R-OKC) and McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) of acting inappropriately toward a then-colleague in the basement of Nic’s Place in 2017. Gerhart provided media short audio clips of himself interviewing the female former lawmaker, who he said asked to remain nameless. Following news stories about the allegation, the former lawmaker reportedly spoke with House legal staff to lodge a formal complaint.
NonDoc has reached out to the former lawmaker via phone call and text message multiple times since Gerhart spoke in detail about the allegation in late April. The former lawmaker has not returned messages seeking comment on the record or on background.
Contracted on behalf of House leadership, Fellers Snider attorney Chelsea Smith confirmed to NonDoc this afternoon that the House’s internal investigation had been completed. She said “details must remain confidential to protect the complainant and others,” but she did offer a written statement via email.
“All parties were cooperative with the investigation,” Smith wrote. “Ultimately, the details provided by the complainant diverged significantly from those provided by the accused and witnesses. The accused and witnesses maintain that no video was ever shown to the complaining party (who was a colleague and peer at the time) and that they were not aware of anyone touching anyone’s leg. There were no other first-hand witnesses to this incident — which allegedly occurred more than two years ago at a private, off-site, social gathering. Under the circumstances, the investigator was unable to substantiate the allegations of wrongdoing by any member.”
McDugle on Gerhart: ‘He was real pissed off’
Kannady and McDugle have denied the allegation for weeks, ultimately sitting down to discuss the situation and criticize Gerhart for what they say are false attacks from a man who dislikes them politically.
“It’s so ironic to me that someone who has called previous female members of the House insulting and derogatory names about their weight, their appearance and their personal lives all of a sudden becomes a champion for women’s rights,” Kannady said of Gerhart on Thursday after learning of the House’s findings.
First elected in 2016, McDugle spoke to NonDoc about the matter earlier in May.
“Al Gerhart was a supporter of mine in the very beginning,” McDugle said. “Then he was pissed off when I started voting for taxes. He was real pissed off when I raised the statute of limitations for sexual abuse, right? When I worked with Carol Bush and we had that bill go through that raised it to the age of 45. He called madder than a hornet.”
McDugle said that, in either September or October of a 2017 special session, Gerhart threatened him in a phone call.
“He called and said, ‘McDugle, if you vote for another tax, I’m going to come after you personally.’ He said, ‘You voted for every tax. You went in as a no-tax guy, and now here you are voting for taxes. I’m going to come after you personally.’ And he did. And every article he wrote — I don’t know how many there are out there — he will take a little seed of truth and expand it into something that was never meant to be.”
Asked about that allegation Thursday, Gerhart called it “a lie.”
“He’s a dirtbag,” Gerhart said of McDugle. “I would never do anything like that.”
Gerhart, however, has been accused of threatening lawmakers over policy disagreements before. He was convicted in 2014 of blackmailing a state senator, although the conviction was overturned on appeal in 2015.
Former lawmaker’s allegation
Gerhart provided media with four brief clips of his conversation with the former lawmaker. Combined, they are 38 seconds in length.
“Kevin McDugle whipped out his phone and started showing me some porn videos (…) and Kannady inappropriately touched my leg under the table,” the former lawmaker told Gerhart in one clip.
In another, Gerhart asked if the former lawmaker’s leg was brushed in an “accidental” manner.
“No, I went home and cried about it to my husband,” the former lawmaker replied.
Of her allegation against McDugle, she said in another clip: “I could tell you the specific video he pulled because I remember it that well. It was that shocking.”
In the final clip, she appeared to answer a question about why she did not come forward at the time.
“I had just gotten elected, and I would have been blackballed,” she said. “But the same person who did that is also the same person responsible for getting me unelected.”
Kannady and McDugle both said they did not remember being at Nic’s Place with the former lawmaker who made the allegation.
“We’ve been to Nic’s so many times,” McDugle said. “I don’t remember her being at Nic’s or doing anything at Nic’s.”
McDugle, Kannady release Gerhart voicemails
Kannady said he has never touched women inappropriately. McDugle, who has spoken publicly of being sexually abused by a minister as a child, called Gerhart’s claims “a witch hunt.”
“I can tell you this: I’ve never played porn at a freaking bar or club or anything, so that’s totally ridiculous. So I don’t know what they’re talking about there,” said McDugle, who added that he has never shown anyone such videos. “I think it’s stupid or crazy to flop out a phone and show anyone porn in public.”
Kannady ran through a series of Gerhart’s writings, which criticized Kannady for his role in the Conservative Alliance PAC’s third-party campaigns against Republican incumbents who had voted against revenue measures in 2017 and 2018. In October after the story had been covered by Campbell Robertson of the New York Times, Gerhart began alluding to the former lawmaker’s allegation.
“Obviously it’s well known that I was involved in races against several representatives, including two that are implicated in this matter: one that lost, one that won,” Kannady said. “The tabloid blogger left voicemails on that day because he knew the New York Times was in town.”
McDugle and Kannady provided a pair of voicemails left on the phone of Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant). They say Gerhart was attempting to leave the messages for Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy). The voicemails appear as audio files and transcripts here:
Hey Sean, it’s Al. Give me a call. I hear the New York Times has got a reporter here in Oklahoma City working that story on the dark money. We need to talk about our little HR case and do some strategizing on that. Holler at me.
Hey, Sean, give me a call. With the New York Times reporter on the case, we need to talk about strategy about this HR complaint that we talked about last week. I don’t think we’re getting anywhere with finding the second woman, so maybe we need to shake the trees a little bit. Give me a holler back.
Gerhart said Thursday that he intended to leave the messages for Dustin Roberts, though he says “Sean” in both of them.
“We know from the voicemails that they were strategizing on this ‘HR complaint’ as a direct result of the New York Times article,” Kannady said. “Why that particular person would be involved in an HR complaint is beyond me. Just as why anyone making a complaint would go to a tabloid blogger is beyond me.”
Rep. Sean Roberts did not respond to a question about the situation before the publication of this story.
Gerhart said everything he has written about Kannady — including claims that additional alleged victims exist — is “100 percent accurate.”
“Me, if I see corruption, I want to burn the whole thing down if that’s what it takes. I don’t have anything to lose. Kannady does,” Gerhart said. “I don’t know how this thing is going to end, but all I know is these women are credible.”
McDugle and Kannady disagree.
“Take a look at how Al Gerhart operates,” McDugle said. “He’s mad as hell that we went after Dr. (Mike) Ritze even though we’ve proven that he was not a Disabled American Veteran but wore the cover. (…) All these things, he still writes articles saying we’re the ones who screwed up. ‘These military guys don’t know what they’re doing; they got out a good man.’ Why? Who’s the good man? We’ve proved it on him. Al Gerhart hasn’t proved anything on us. And he won’t. But it’s a witch hunt, and he’s continued to come after us.”