After hearing testimony about cat urine, water jugs and lewd gestures from three residents of Tulsa’s Central Park Condominiums who say Rep. Kevin McDugle is their neighbor and not a resident of House District 12, the Oklahoma State Election Board voted unanimously to allow McDugle to stay on the 2020 ballot.
Republican Justin Dine filed to run against McDugle and challenged the retired Marine’s eligibility to serve House District 12 by calling the witnesses, presenting more than a dozen exhibits and arguing that McDugle’s primary residence is on the ninth floor of the condo complex on 7th Street in Tulsa.
“He would have to reside somewhere within District 12, which is Wagoner County, and as far as I can tell he does not,” Dine told Secretary Paul Ziriax and the three-member State Election Board. “He lives in Tulsa in a condo or in Oklahoma City where he has an apartment.”
But McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) argued otherwise, calling as witnesses two separate landlords and a man to whom he has rented the Tulsa condo in question. Ultimately he prevailed, but the hearing lasted more than 90 minutes and featured a litany of laughable moments.
“I honestly felt like I was in an episode of Tiger King. It was something else,” McDugle said later Tuesday. “I honestly knew that we were going to win because I live in district. It’s not scary when you actually live where you’re supposed to live.
“Now I can get back to work for the folks in the district.”
‘It was a rancid smell of urine’
Throughout the day’s hearing, McDugle challenged the credibility of Dine’s witnesses and presented his own evidence. McDugle asked fireworks salesman and Coweta gas station owner Randy Scott to describe the “mother-in-law” house he said he has rented to McDugle for “at least two and a half years.”
“As far as I know, you have quite a bit of stuff over there,” said Scott, who was asked by Dine in cross examination to describe the lease terms. “It went month to month. I know he was here — golly, what is this, April? I know he was here the the last three or four months.”
Scott said McDugle has lived in a structure between his house and Scott’s uncle’s house on the same property.
McDugle also called Kevin Hefley as a witness, saying he began renting a Broken Arrow apartment from Hefley in December and that Hefley had even helped him move.
“Where did you move my belongings from?” McDugle asked.
Hefley replied: “The place over in Coweta. I don’t remember the address. I had a beer with you a couple of times.”
Dine asked whether Hefley and Scott have previously donated to McDugle’s election efforts. Both men said they had.
McDugle also called on a man named David McClure who rents the Tulsa condominium that McDugle owns, which Dine claimed is the representative’s residence. McClure said he has only been at the condo “three or four times” this year, but he told McDugle he has complained to him about the smell in the shared hallway.
That drew questions from Election Board member Heather Mahieu Cline, who asked McClure to “describe the smell.”
“It smelled like urine,” McClure said.
Cline sought more details: “Like human urine? Pet urine?”
McClure expressed uncertainty.
“Well, I’m not an expert in — uh — it was a rancid smell of urine,” he said.
‘Praise Jesus, but he was cussing!’
As described earlier in the hearing, the urine in question was likely cat urine, which is notoriously concentrated and odiferous. Central Park Condominium resident Terri Hallberg testified on behalf of Dine, saying her condo is next to the one McDugle owns and that he and his girlfriend reside there.
“I get fined all the time about my cats,” Hallberg told McDugle. “Because you say it smells.”
McDugle said Hallberg told him that she dislikes him.
“Can you give the reasons why you can’t stand me?” McDugle asked. “Do you remember saying, ‘Oh, you’re one of those Republicans’?”
Hallberg said she did not say that, but she did answer Cline’s questions.
“Do you believe Mr. McDugle has lodged complaints against you for your smelly cats?” Cline asked.
Hallberg said she believed McDugle had. She also told the board that she could hear McDugle in the condo routinely. But asked the last time she saw him at the property, Hallberg said she could not recall exactly.
“I can’t live my life writing down everything everybody does, OK?” Hallberg said. “I heard his voice (recently). And he was cussing. Praise Jesus, but he was cussing! He said something about ‘those fucking people.'”
McDugle, wearing a face mask in the Election Board office, shook his head and looked at his phone.
Dine called other witnesses from the condo complex, including Kimberly Wiley, who said she knows residents by their dogs and often sees McDugle walking his dog. She said she and neighbors have taken issue with an empty five-gallon water jug being left outside McDugle’s condo door.
“That’s a lot of water for somebody who doesn’t live there,” Dine argued.
Wiley said she identified McDugle’s truck and noted that it featured the complex’s parking decal. McClure, the man who rents the unit from McDugle, said he parks outside of the fenced lot because he does not have a resident decal.
“When you buy your condo, you buy your parking place also,” Wiley said.
When it became McDugle’s turn to cross-examine Wiley, he brought up his condo’s Ring doorbell.
“I’ve got pictures on my phone that my renter has sent me of you flipping off the Ring doorbell,” McDugle said.
While Wiley said that displaying the digitus impudicus “is not something I recall,” she admitted “it’s very much possible.”
McDugle’s final witness — an assistant property manager of the complex named Kathy Evington — detailed the Ring photos and videos reported to her by McDugle.
“There were some of individuals giving the bird, slamming the door into the wall that is adjacent to your condo (…) and fodder between two residents who were not very — it was derogatory toward you,” Evington said, saying the complex has a “group who likes to stir up trouble.”
McDugle provided NonDoc with two photos and videos showing the actions alleged, but they have not been published here because they depict private citizens at their residences.
‘Quoting Al Gerhart quotes’
McDugle was the last person to testify in his hearing. He said in response to questioning by Cline that he renovated the Central Park condo so that he could take his sons there on the one weekend a month he has custody.
He also affirmed that he had photos of Kimberly Wiley “flipping the bird” as well as “video evidence of her dancing in front of the camera quoting Al Gerhart quotes, calling [my girlfriend] a bitch, those kinds of things.” McDugle said he’d had few personal interactions with Wiley and Halberg and that they were “hostile.”
In his closing statement, Dine emphasized his belief that McDugle had renovated the condo “for his own taste” rather than for renters. He also questioned why McDugle had a resident’s parking permit, said he attended residents-only events and had been served documents for a lawsuit at the condo.
“I do believe that we should fully be willing to submit to these rules even if we don’t understand them, the reasons behind all of them,” Dine said of the state’s residency requirements for legislators. “As a public official, above all, we should trust this process, which formed in the wisdom of the governing body that wrote them and understand these statutes exist for a reason and not skirt them.”
More than 40 Oklahoma legislators re-elected by default by Tres Savage
McDugle started his closing statement by claiming that “the lady that was behind the last challenge I had,” was helping Dine mount his challenge.
“When I saw the witness list, I knew why I was being served,” he said. “I feel like I’m on a cat-lady reality show or something.”
He reaffirmed his statement that his primary residence is in Broken Arrow and added, “I do call into question the judgment of some people who listen to Al Gerhart and also these witnesses.”
After a formal reminder from a representative of the attorney general’s office of the laws regarding residency requirements, Election Board Chairman Tom Montgomery moved to deny Dine’s petition and allow McDugle to remain on the ballot. The motion was quickly seconded and passed by a 3-0 vote.
Kevin McDugle, 52, and Justin Dine, 48 will face each other in the June 30 GOP primary election for House District 12. No other candidates filed for the seat, meaning the primary will decide the election.
Other contestations of candidacy
The Oklahoma State Election Board met for more than nine hours Tuesday, processing a half-dozen other challenges. The board voted unanimously to:
- Retain Kenny Bob Tapp on the HD 61 ballot;
- Retain Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) on the HD 97 ballot;
- Strike Ismail A. Shan from the HD 72 ballot;
- Strike Jamie McGuire from the HD 69 ballot;
- Strike Stevan Elvis Cunningham from the SD 45 ballot;
- Strike Gregory Dunson from the HD 51 ballot, making Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow) the winner by default;
- Strike Shawn Wilson from the HD 37 ballot, making Rep. Ken Luttrell (R-Ponca City) the winner by default.
(Editor’s note: Andrea DenHoed contributed to this story. It was updated at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday, April 22, to note the board’s decision on the candidacy of Kenny Bob Tapp.)