Despite boasting a population or nearly 4 million people, Oklahoma often has the tendencies of a small town. When it comes to attorneys, educators and political appointees, the state is even smaller.
So when Oklahoma’s arguably most prominent political figure is accused of sexual misconduct, it might seem unavoidable for accusing parties and those tasked with serving the public interest to hold their own relationships of ethical complexity.
In the case of former governor, U.S. senator and OU President David Boren and his public accuser — former classroom aide Jess Eddy — five complicated relationships are worth noting. That said, nothing in this article is intended to imply impropriety on the part of any individual. Rather, the information is readily available on the internet and has been compiled here for public transparency.
Special prosecutor Pat Ryan’s law partner is Dan Webber
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter recused himself from the David Boren investigation for multiple reasons. (More on that in a moment.) Hunter named former U.S. Attorney Pat Ryan as a special prosecutor and the attorney general’s representative before the multi-county grand jury on any related proceedings.
But in his private life, Ryan is a partner in Ryan, Whaley, Coldiron, Jantzen, Peters & Webber, a civil litigation law firm in Oklahoma City. The firm has no role in Ryan’s temporary duties as special prosecutor.
The final name on the firm’s plaque belongs to Dan Webber, a U.S. attorney himself from 1999 to 2001. Before that, Webber served as press secretary and ultimately legal counsel for then-U.S. Sen. David Boren. Boren endorsed Webber when the younger man ran at age 27 in a 1994 special election for Oklahoma’s 6th Congressional District.
Beyond endorsing him, Boren appeared in television advertisements for Webber, praising him for his policy knowledge and character. Webber won the Democratic primary and lost the 1994 special election to then-state Rep. Frank Lucas, who has held the seat ever since.
Webber’s time as U.S. attorney came about five years after his son was injured in the 1995 Murrah bombing, which Ryan prosecuted. Ryan hired Webber as an assistant U.S. attorney that same year.
Kindy Jones, assistant attorney general, is the mother of an accuser
Thus far, the only person making public accusations of sexual misconduct against David Boren is a former teaching assistant named Jess Eddy. While a released portion of OU’s report from the Jones Day law firm indicates five other people also described allegedly inappropriate behavior by Boren, Eddy has largely stood alone in his allegations. He has received assistance from victims’ advocate Sara Bana, and he has been represented legally by his father, employment attorney Rand Eddy.
But Rand Eddy is not the only attorney in his son’s life. In fact, Jess Eddy’s mother is Kindanne or “Kindy” Jones, an assistant attorney general in Mike Hunter’s office. A 1985 graduate of Boston College Law School, Jones started with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office in 2006 and serves in its litigation unit.
Kindy Jones and Rand Eddy finalized their divorce in 2007.
When Hunter named Ryan as special prosecutor for the Boren situation in April, his communications director explained the decision in a statement but did not mention Jones. The statement did note that the attorney general’s office represents the University of Oklahoma in various matters.
“The attorney general took appropriate action by recusing himself and numerous senior members of his staff from involvement in this case to avoid any conflict of interest. This will ensure we can continue our attorney client relationship with the university now and in the future,” said Alex Gerszewski. “Acting as special counsel, Mr. Ryan must comply with all state statutes regarding the multi-county grand jury and is unable to disclose information or provide comment on this case.”
Interim OU President Joe Harroz was David Boren’s legal counsel
When the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents named longtime Boren confidant Joe Harroz as interim president at 2 a.m. on May 17, several longtime political observers raised their eyebrows.
Joe Harroz spoke to Jones Day, confirms Title IX review by Tres Savage
Not only did Harroz work as legal counsel to Boren in the early 1990s near the controversial end of his U.S. Senate career, Harroz served as legal counsel for Boren at OU before working briefly in the private sector and returning as dean of the OU College of Law.
After a meeting of the OU Board of Regents in Sulphur on June 25, Harroz confirmed he was interviewed by Jones Day attorneys hired by the university to investigate the allegations against Boren. But Harroz stopped short of saying whether he had spoken with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting its own inquest.
Harroz also said he did not “know” of Boren ever engaging in romantic relationships with male aides but declined to say whether he had ever heard discussion to that effect.
Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes has been on the OU Board of Regents since 2006
As Jones Day attorneys and the OSBI have investigated allegations of sexual misconduct by Boren, one member of the OU Board of Regents has overseen the university’s operations far longer than any of her current peers: Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes. A retired pediatric dermatologist, Rainbolt-Forbes was first appointed to the OU Board of Regents by then-Gov. Brad Henry in 2006, nine years before the board’s second-longest-tenured member, Renzi Stone. She was reappointed by Gov. Mary Fallin in 2013.
What Rainbolt-Forbes knew about controversial university operations — including misconduct allegations against Boren — remains a mystery. For months, she has limited her public remarks to pre-written statements read aloud from a sheet of paper.
But Rainbolt-Forbes’ 13-year tenure on the board tasked with providing OU’s oversight raises questions about what concerns she may have held before Boren’s departure. The subsequent president hired by the board — Jim Gallogly — said he found systemic financial issues that resulted in the termination of senior staff members and disclosure that OU had misreported donor data to a national publication.
In addition, Rainbolt-Forbes has a personal connection to Boren’s presidency: Her father, renowned banker and philanthropist Gene Rainbolt, served as co-chairman of the OU presidential search committee that selected Boren in 1994. In the Gene Rainbolt biography Out of the Dust, Tom Lindley writes that Rainbolt actively recruited a hesitant Boren to pursue the OU presidency despite news reports at the time that Boren wanted the job. The book says Rainbolt ultimately resolved a disagreement with the OU Foundation over which architecture firm Boren could use to renovate the Boyd House because he “wrote the $10,000 check to make the problem disappear.”
Rand Eddy represents Suzette Grillot and Levi Hilliard; Grillot has spoken to OSBI
As mentioned above, Jess Eddy is legally represented by his father, attorney Rand Eddy. While he has not filed a lawsuit against OU on behalf of his son, Rand Eddy is counsel to OU graduate and University Club employee Levi Hilliard as well as former College of International Studies Dean Suzette Grillot. Both have sued OU.
Hilliard has made public accusations of sexual battery and assault against longtime Boren confidant and former OU Vice President of University Development Tripp Hall. He says Hall touched him and kissed him on multiple occasions while Hilliard was working events for the University Club, an entity on whose operations board Hall sat. With Rand Eddy as his attorney, Hilliard is suing Hall and seeking damages from OU for “negligent supervision” of Hall. Hilliard has said he reported his interactions with Hall to his supervisors, who Hilliard said took no action. (Jess Eddy says Hall touched him inappropriately as well.)
Rand Eddy is also representing Grillot in her suit against OU, now-former President Jim Gallogly and current Provost Kyle Harper for claims of gender-based wage discrimination, a First Amendment violation and interference of business relations. Grillot was officially removed from her dean position Jan. 18 and profanely demanded Gallogly’s resignation days later in a public speech at a rally about race relations on campus.
But while Grillot’s concerns about OU have largely been pigeonholed as a beef with Gallogly, she has been a broader critic of alleged gender bias and secrecy within the university’s administration and Board of Regents. Having helped lead the search committee that ultimately selected Harper as provost, Grillot asked in February 2018 for transparency in the search process for Boren’s successor. Once Gallogly was named, she wrote a second open letter asking him to “take steps to address the concerns about non-transparency and exclusivity shared by much of the university community.”
NonDoc has learned that Grillot spoke to OSBI on May 13 about her knowledge of a separate allegation of sexual misconduct made against David Boren. The alleged male victim’s name has not been made public here or elsewhere.
Later in May, Grillot called Harroz “a Boren crony” and said his appointment as interim president was “disgraceful.” In June, after OU accepted Boren’s resignation agreement to sever all ties with the university, Grillot said the Board of Regents “seems to think (wrongly) they can just wash their hands of David Boren.”