David Hooten
The Tuesday, June 21, 2022, meeting of the Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners could feature a vote to remove County Clerk David Hooten from office. (Pablo Angulo)

(Update: On Friday, June 17, David Hooten officially resigned his elected position.)

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater will seek the removal of County Clerk David Hooten from office during the Board of County Commissioners meeting next week.

Prater confirmed the accuracy of a proposed agenda item provided to NonDoc today, but he said he would withhold further comment at this time. The agenda for Tuesday morning’s meeting is expected to be published Friday, with the following item listed:

Discussion and possible action on the District Attorney’s Petition seeking removal and interim suspension of David B. Hooten, Oklahoma County Clerk, pursuant to Section 1194 of Title 22 on grounds of Oppression in Office, Corruption in Office, and Willful Maladministration. —  Submitted by David Prater, District Attorney.

Hooten, who is also running for state treasurer as a Republican, has recently found himself under scrutiny for a planned team-building trip involving clerk’s office employees.

In a recording obtained by News 9, Hooten is heard telling multiple employees about the planned outing, which he said was meant to help them confront their fears.

“There will be alcohol involved, meaning we will drink. We will do things. We will gamble. We will do a bunch of things,” Hooten can be heard saying on the recording. “Some will be fun, some will be scary, but the whole point is it’s going to take us out of your comfort level and at the end you’ll have felt like you endured something.”

A Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office investigative report on Hooten’s behavior was subsequently released. It described an incident of alleged sexual harassment by Hooten and allegations that he has asked county employees to work on his campaign while on county time.

Speaking to NonDoc last week, Hooten stood by the team-building trip, which was planned in order to help resolve on office dispute.

“What you have to do with that kind of situation is they have to confront their fears,” Hooten said. “You’re not bothering them, you’re not making them do anything. You’re taking them to a place where it will change their outcome because the outcome hasn’t been changed in five years. It’s used all the time in corporate America. It may not be used in government, but I stand by everything I did.”

Hooten also appeared to reference the situation in posts on his Facebook earlier this week.

“Now is when you see your true friends!!” he wrote in a post on Monday evening. “Game on!!!”

District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan issued a statement late Thursday afternoon and expressed alarm regarding the allegations made against Hooten.

“The allegations and the lawsuit against Clerk David Hooten are very serious and cause me a great deal of concern. I await to hear from District Attorney David Prater at Tuesday’s commission meeting as to what options the county has and will vote accordingly.”

According to Hooten’s state treasurer campaign website Maughan previously endorsed Hooten in this year’s race.

District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey, who is also running for Oklahoma County District Attorney, said in a text to NonDoc he will vote to remove Hooten.

“I will vote to remove Hooten. On legal or personnel matters, our legal counsel, the District Attorney, instructs us not to make statements in the media. In this case, the District Attorney himself has stated in the media, and I agree, that Hooten’s recorded comments aired in the media recently, and his proposed work meeting involving alcohol and gambling, are not appropriate. In keeping with our standard instruction not to comment on legal or personnel issues, I will decline further comment pending guidance from the DA’s office.”

Calvey had also previously endorsed Hooten in his run for state treasurer, according to Hooten’s website.

Blumert reveals ‘uncomfortable’ Hooten incidents

Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert speaks at a National Voter Registration Day event at Wheeler Park on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. (Michael Duncan)

District 1 County Commissioner Carrie Blumert revealed during a debate Tuesday night with other District 1 candidates that she has had her own encounters with Hooten that made her uncomfortable. Blumert made her comments after being criticized by another candidate for not speaking out publicly on Hooten’s alleged behavior.

“I have not said anything publicly about Mr. Hooten because I too am a victim of Mr. Hooten’s harassment,” Blumert said. “And I have not come out about it publicly because it is hard to talk about. We are figuring out what we can do behind the scenes, what we can do to encourage him to resign. So that is why I haven’t spoken publicly about it. So don’t be so quick to judge when folks don’t speak out publicly about something.”

In an interview following the debate, Blumert said the awkward encounters with Hooten followed a pattern.

“Inappropriate text messages, calling me at inappropriate times, giving me gifts, being very upset after meetings if I would ask questions during meetings about his items. He would get very offended and very upset and then he would bring me a gift after,” she told NonDoc. “It was very weird.”

Blumert let NonDoc review a text message and two written notes sent to her by Hooten. At 4:42 a.m. on Sept. 8, 2021, Hooten texted her a photo with both of them in it and wrote, “We look so young! LOL.”

Blumert told NonDoc the incidents went on for several years until she confronted Hooten in late 2021.

“I finally stood up to him and asked him to stop, and I listed off the things he had done that made me uncomfortable, and I said please stop and he stopped,” Blumert said.

Blumert said said she had been unaware that Hooten may have made county employees uncomfortable.

“I hadn’t heard of any other (issues) until the article came out. I didn’t know that was also how he was treating his staff,” she said.

Given the ongoing investigation into Hooten by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and other claims against Hooten by employees, Blumert said it’s time for Hooten to go.

“He certainly needs to resign, and I’m in a position now if I need to be public for him to resign, then I guess I need to be public,” Blumert said.

Scrutiny mounts over team-building trip

David Hooten
Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten asked for an item creating a dog training facility be included on the Board of County Commissioners agenda Monday, May 2, 2022. (Facebook)

The recording of Hooten obtained by News 9 and the sheriff’s report on incidents involving the county clerk include a number of odd details.

For instance, after telling employees that they would be drinking on the team-building trip, Hooten also claimed on the recording that his brain has been altered so that he is unable to become intoxicated by drinking alcohol.

“And just so you all know, I’ve been genetically altered so I don’t get drunk no matter what,” Hooten said on the recording. “They gave me a chemical that changes your brain, because I travel in Europe, and so it actually won’t have an effect on me. But hopefully it has an effect on you all.”

One of the employees went to the county Human Resources Department immediately after the meeting’s conclusion. According to the sheriff’s report Hooten reiterated his invulnerability to alcohol intoxication while speaking to HR director Karen Kint.

“Mr. Hooten stated to Ms. Kint that this was done because he travels to Europe a lot and spends a lot of time with royalty from various countries,” the report states. “Mr. Hooten stated that it is considered rude if you are offered a drink by royalty and refuse to accept the drink, but he does not want to get drunk and do something embarrassing while he is in the presence of royalty. Ms. Kint found this very odd and wondered why Mr. Hooten would go into details to explain why he has been ‘genetically altered.’”

Two clerk’s office employees, who spoke to NonDoc on the condition of anonymity, said the meeting discussing the planned outing left them uncomfortable and threw up “red flags.”

“Nobody is doing anything for us,” one of the employees told NonDoc. “We’re getting fed to the wolves here. We come to work. We hide in our office. It’s crazy.”

The women said HR has been aware of personnel problems within the office for some time and that nobody has done anything about what they allege is a toxic work environment.

“This team-building — getting us drunk — event was his solution to that problem,” one of the employees said.

In addition to details about the team-building meeting, the sheriff’s report also recounts an incident in which Hooten made inappropriate sexual remarks to an employee while riding in a car.

“How many times do you think I can make you [orgasm] before we get back to the office?” Hooten allegedly said while returning to the county building after co-signing on a vehicle loan for the employee.

C.J. Cavin, a former employee at the county clerk’s office, also told investigators that Hooten had hired him and had asked him to work on Hooten’s county clerk reelection campaign while being paid by the county.

Cavin told investigators that he refused to do campaign work while on the clock for the county and that Hooten ultimately fired him. Cavin told investigators he believes the person Hooten hired to run the county clerk’s office social media accounts was also hired by Hooten and that it is “entirely probable” that the employee is being required to work for Hooten’s campaign on county time.