Almost a year after he was censured by his Oklahoma House of Representatives colleagues, Rep. Dean Davis submitted a written apology today for his March 2023 public intoxication arrest and argument with a police officer.
Under the terms of his censure, Davis (R-Broken Arrow) is expected to regain his committee assignments, which were withdrawn by his reprimand.
Davis addressed his letter to House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka), his fellow lawmakers and the public, noting that he has “immense respect for our law enforcement officers.”
“I acknowledge that my behavior was unbecoming of a public servant and fell short of the high standards expected of someone in my position,” Davis said in the letter, which is quoted in full below. “I am committed to making amends and ensuring that such an incident does not occur again.”
Asked Wednesday evening about his letter — which was recorded in the House Journal — Davis said he chose to submit the formal apology to enable his return to committees.
“That’s the whole thing. All the different representatives want me back on committees,” Davis said.
Davis in March: ‘You can’t detain me’
Davis was arrested and charged with public intoxication early in the morning on March 23. Davis, Rep. T.J. Marti (R-Broken Arrow) and others were confronted by police for being on the patio of a Bricktown bar after hours. During the encounter, Davis falsely claimed he could not be arrested because he was a member of the state House of Representatives and session was ongoing.
The arrest came just 20 days after Davis’ probationary period for a previous DUI in Broken Arrow had ended. On the House floor the morning after his OKC arrest, Davis claimed he had been wrongly detained.
“I understand that last night there has become a story that many of my colleagues in the House are now being asked to comment on or to explain the events of last night,” Davis said. “I dispute any wrongdoing, however, I do want to take this opportunity to apologize to this body for creating this unnecessary distraction from the important work of the House.”
On Wednesday evening, hours after submitting his apology letter, Davis again expressed frustration about the circumstances of his arrest, which occurred without a breath or blood test to determine whether he was legally intoxicated by alcohol or other substances.
“You know, I don’t feel like I need to apologize when I didn’t do anything wrong,” Davis said, referencing Marti’s prior insistence that his friend was sober and the arrest was unjustified. “T.J. told you exactly what I was doing, standing there with a Dr. Pepper, and 30 seconds — you know, you know the story. But I am going to apologize. I wrote it today, and I think it is exactly in order for me to apologize and take accountability. It’s basically what I said. So then I get back on. So I just take it as a letter as it is.”
Davis eventually pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor public intoxication charge and paid a $178 fine in Oklahoma City municipal court.
“It’s like a jaywalking ticket. I was going to fight it, and it was going to cost more in court fees and lawyers to fight a ticket than to pay the ticket. Why would I do that? That’s just simple economics, in my opinion. There’s a lot of options I could have done. Yeah, there’s a lot of things I really could have done, and I just chose to just do the simple way,” Davis said. “Hopefully in the future we will run legislation like other states out there that have correct laws on the books, because that’s a poor law that an individual could get arrested and not be intoxicated — for standing there within 30 seconds, and there’s no test, there’s no anything.”
Davis said he apologizes to the OKCPD officers who arrested him, saying they “did a great job” even though he believes “they overreacted a little bit when I was just standing there.”
“They let me out real quick once they took me down [to the county jail], and they were like, ‘OK.’ It is what it is,” Davis said. “You know the whole story from before. T.J. explained it perfectly. So it is what it is. I’m sorry, and I’m going to take accountability. I did question, but isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Question when things are wrong?”
Prior to his censure, Davis served as vice chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as a member of the House Insurance Committee and the House Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee, for which Marti serves as chairman.
Turner also censured in March 2023
Four days after Davis’ March 23 arrest, members of the House voted 81-9 to censure Davis “for conduct unbecoming.” At the time, House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC) described Davis’ actions as an “abuse of office” while debating in favor of censure.
Representatives also expressed frustration that the even marked Davis’ second time attempting to leverage his position with authorities after being arrested.
Davis was the second Oklahoma representative censured by the House in March 2023. Rep. Mauree Turner (D-OKC) was reprimanded after GOP House leaders said Turner impeded a law enforcement investigation into alleged assaults on a fellow member and a state trooper. Turner was also removed from House committees pending a formal apology.
Turner, who voted and debated against Davis’ censure, did not respond to a request for comment prior to the publication of this article.
Of the 13 bills filed by Davis this session, 11 are shell measures referred to the House Rules Committee. Davis also filed HB 3899, which would establish a tax credit of $25 per ton of reduced carbon dioxide vehicle emissions, and HB 3900 to extend the duration of fleet-vehicle car tag registrations.
Turner filed eight bills this session, including a trio of proposals related to the voting rights of currently or formerly incarcerated individuals: HB 4141 to require people convicted of a felony offense to be notified upon restoration of their voting rights; HB 4142 requiring county jails to provide a process for requesting and submitting absentee ballots; and HB 4143 to modify procedures for the suspension of voting eligibility.
Full letter: Rep. Dean Davis apologizes
Mr. Speaker, Members of the House, People of Oklahoma:
I want to express my deepest apologies to the Speaker of the House, the citizens of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Police Department for my actions leading to the incident the morning of March 23, 2023.
I acknowledge that my behavior was unbecoming of a public servant and fell short of the high standards expected of someone in my position. I am committed to making amends and ensuring that such an incident does not occur again.
I hold immense respect for our law enforcement officers and regret any disrespect my actions may have conveyed. I am dedicated to serving with integrity and honor moving forward.
I sincerely ask for your forgiveness and support as we move forward with the important work for our great state.
Representative Dean Davis, House District 98