House District 99
From left: Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-OKC) is being challenged by Brittane Grant in the 2024 Democratic primary for Oklahoma House District 99 in northeast Oklahoma City. (NonDoc)

In unusual circumstances that have caused extensive community conversation, complex legal questions loom over both candidates for House District 99 in northeast Oklahoma City ahead of the June 18 Democratic primary that will decide the seat.

After Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-OKC) signed a large settlement May 20 with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission regarding improper personal use of campaign funds — an action similar to ones that drew criminal charges against former legislators — the incumbent lawmaker faces a prescribed timeline to pay $35,000 in fines and restitution.

While the news of Pittman’s settlement would seem to help the campaign of her sole opponent, challenger Brittane Grant is also facing scrutiny for legal issues. In 2016, Grant pleaded guilty to felony charges for fraudulent representation on applications for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps.

Questions about a subsequent arrest, her probationary timeline and her answer “No” on a State Election Board declaration asking if she had ever pleaded guilty to a felony have spurred speculation that she may be ineligible to hold public office.

Only hours before a June 6 candidate forum, Pittman filed a petition (embedded below) asking an Oklahoma County District Court judge to declare Grant ineligible to serve in the Legislature and to prohibit election officials from certifying Grant as the winner if she receives more votes than Pittman on June 18.

With the primary approaching, HD 99 voters must decide for whom to vote even as questions of whether Pittman will be charged and whether Grant is eligible to serve remain unanswered. With no Republican candidate seeking the seat, the Democratic primary will decide HD 99.

Forum focuses on policy, avoids legal questions

From left: House District 99 Rep. Ajay Pittman watches her Democratic primary opponent, Brittane Grant, answer a question during a forum Thursday, June 6, 2024, at Metro Technology Center in Oklahoma City. (Sasha Ndisabiye)

During the forum hosted by the OKC Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. at Metro Technology Center’s Springlake Campus — which also featured Senate District 48 candidates — moderators asked Pittman and Grant about their backgrounds, policy perspectives and legislative plans, but they did not bring up the legal and ethical issues facing each woman.

Still, the topics were on community members minds.

Toward the end of the evening, a man stood and asked each candidate to say something good about their opponent to avoid the perception of Black women tearing each other down. Per the man’s request, Pittman applauded Grant for getting involved in politics while also wishing her a happy early birthday the same day she filed her petition to invalidate Grant’s candidacy. Grant referenced being a mother and commended Pittman for working on issues to reduce maternal mortality rates.

Along with the kind words, HD 99 candidates took turns speaking on subjects such as maintaining economic growth, working across party lines, plans to benefit Oklahoma’s senior community, legislation involving homeless veterans, and one of Oklahoma’s more prominent issues regarding disproportionately incarcerated African Americans and women.


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After the June 6 forum, Grant answered several questions about her deferred judgment for fraud, saying she pleaded guilty in 2016 to two charges for actions she took in 2012: false representation to obtain food stamps and false representation to obtain assistance. In exchange for the guilty plea, she received a deferred sentence and six years of probation and parole starting in November 2016.

In Oklahoma, court-ordered supervision can only be served for a two-year maximum, meaning Grant was on parole through November 2018, but she served the full six-year probation sentence through 2022.

Asked about the situation, Grant said she believed her case should have been dismissed years ago.

“I take full responsibility for the case, but I do feel like we should have handled it or the state or the court could have handled it in the case in their way of it being dismissed in 2018 when I had all my obligations fulfilled,” Grant said. “I paid off everything on my restitutions, everything that needed to be fined. Everything that needed to be done was completed in 2018.”

Grant, whose LinkedIn lists an employment history doing economic development work for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, then texted an official statement regarding her guilty plea.

“I will not make any excuses for what happened, but please know, I did not — and would not have — knowingly done anything illegal. I simply was trying to do what I could to take care of my children,” the statement read.

As Grant’s campaign has progressed, questions about her charges have swirled, partially owing to the limited records available, which she said had been expunged after her probation ended in 2022. However, documentation shows that the case was not legally dismissed until this month.

On June 3, Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna filed a motion to dismiss Grant’s case based on completion of the deferred judgment. District Court Judge Susan Stallings approved the motion and ordered dismissal of the case and expungement of of the record.

Despite the new filing, Oklahoma State Courts Network records about Grant’s CF-2016-279 had already been removed from public view. The Department of Corrections’ website, however, continues to show Grant’s reception photo and parole record.

Meanwhile, a records request to the Edmond Police Department revealed that Grant was arrested by University of Central Oklahoma police for a stop sign violation and driving without a valid license May 14, 2022, about six months before her probation period on the fraud charges was set to expire.

Public information officer Emily Ward, however, said EPD has “no associated report” on the arrest, but she said records indicate that she ran a stop sign and was booked into the City of Edmond jail after an officer “ran her license and was notified that it was suspended.”

It is unclear what effect Grant’s May 2022 arrest did or did not have on her probation, which expired about six months later.

Grant’s campaign team reached out with an official statement on June 5 acknowledging her past sentencing.

“As a young mother of two young children, I found myself in need of assistance. This incident was over 12 years ago. I will not make any excuses for what happened, I take responsibility for my actions. The charges were dismissed, and my record has been expunged,” Grant said in the June 5 statement. “I want to stand for people just like me. People who have encountered difficult times but who have worked hard to overcome, better themselves, their families, and our community.”

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List of Pittman’s personal expenses revealed

Rep. Ajay Pittman campaign violations
Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-OKC) works on her phone before Gov. Kevin Stitt delivers his State of the State address on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022. (Provided)

After the June 6 forum, Pittman was also asked about her personal use of 2020 and 2022 campaign funds that spurred her settlement agreement with the Ethics Commission, but she refused to speak on the subject and referred back to her official statement from May 29.

“Actually, I’ve already provided NonDoc with a statement,” Pittman said. “[One of your reporters] has that statement. They printed it or did something with it, so if you would refer back to that, that’s all I have to say on that matter.”

Following an investigation by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission that began in June 2022, Pittman signed a settlement agreement stipulating that over the next two years she will reimburse $17,848.22 of funds spent from her 2020 and 2022 campaign accounts for personal expenses. She is also required to pay a $17,141.78 fine to the state’s General Revenue Fund.

On March 8, the Ethics Commission’s general counsel sent Pittman a notice of allegations that outlined the questionable expenditures. According to the notice — which the Ethics Commission released to NonDoc in response to an Open Records Act request — a candidate not responding to allegations serves as an admission of guilt.

For both Pittman’s 2020 and 2022 campaign accounts, the Ethics Commission identified several expenses of “funds for personal use in violation of Rule 2.39,” including travel, food, shopping, cash withdrawals and paying $2,200 of personal credit card debt.

According to the letter sent by the Ethics Commission, purchases were made at stores and with companies such as:

  • Hudiburg Buick Midwest City, Remington Park, Cinemark Theater, the Cruise Line Industry Association, Lenox Skincare, T.J. Maxx, Apple, Walmart, Costco, Fashion Nova, Delta Airlines, Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, Pearl’s Oyster Bar, Charleston’s, Uber Eats, Lyft, multiple hotel chains, and numerous other restaurants in Oklahoma and around the country.

After taking a vote during a meeting May 10, the Ethics Commission authorized executive director Lee Anne Bruce Boone to proceed with a settlement agreement.

Pittman signed the agreement May 20, and the Ethics Commission later approved it May 29.

“I am pleased that our campaign has reached an agreement with the state Ethics Commission regarding a clerical error in our campaign filings. Although, it is not uncommon for legislators to hire people to manage and file reports on their behalf,” Pittman said. “I am glad that the error was brought to my attention, as it provided us with the opportunity to take swift action, including making changes in campaign staff and working closely with the Ethics Commission to ensure that our campaign is able to update previous years campaign filings that will ensure that we remain in compliance with all state ethics rules now and in the future.”

Asked if Behenna, the district attorney, was reviewing Pittman’s civil settlement agreement for potential criminal charges, director of communications Brook Arbeitman said June 3 that the Ethics Commission had not sent Behenna information about the case.

“We haven’t been referred anything at this point,” Arbeitman said.

In 2017, Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-OKC) resigned after pleading guilty to three felony counts related to embezzling campaign funds for personal use. In 2016, former Rep. Gus Blackwell (R-Goodwell) was charged with 44 criminal counts for a scheme to receive state reimbursement for travel expenses that he also paid out of his campaign funds. Blackwell ultimately pleaded guilty to one charge of perjury.

Pittman challenges Grant’s eligibility based on felony plea

When Grant filed for House District 99 and signed her 2024 declaration of candidacy application, she answered “No” to a question on page two, section seven, that asked about the applicant’s criminal history: “Have you been convicted, pled guilty, or nolo contendere, or otherwise been determined by a court of proper authority in Oklahoma or in another state to be guilty of a misdemeanor involving embezzlement or of a felony under the laws of this state or of the United States?”

Grant’s answer of “No” despite her 2016 guilty plea caused Pittman to file the June 6 petition asking a judge to declare her opponent ineligible for office. Pittman cited Article 5, Section 18 of the Oklahoma Constitution that states no person “who has been adjudged guilty of a felony” shall serve as a member of the Legislature.

Represented by attorney Jason Reese, Pittman also cited Title 26, Section 5-105, which states that no one “who has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to such misdemeanor involving embezzlement or felony (…) shall not be eligible to be a candidate for or to be elected to any state, county, municipal, judicial or school office or any other elective office of any political subdivision of this state for a period of 15 years following completion of his sentence or during the pendency of an appeal of such conviction or plea.”

Pursuant to the statute, Pittman requested that the court declare Grant ineligible to serve as state representative of House District 99. Pittman is also seeking injunctive relief to prohibit the State Election Board and its agents from taking any action to certify Grant as the winner of the election.

Asked about her petition after the June 6 forum, Pittman declined to comment.

“We will confer with our attorney and will put a statement out on that when the time allows us to,” Pittman said.

Asked about Pittman’s filing against her, Grant said that because of the circumstances of her case and the fact that her charges should have been formally dismissed in 2022, there was no reason for her to believe she could not run for public office.

“I was under the impression that there was no real reason to not be able to run and I wasn’t not eligible,” Grant said. “So I’m ready to fight.”

The case has been assigned to District Judge Don Andrews. At the time of this article’s publication, Grant had not filed a response to Pittman’s June 6 petition.

Read Pittman’s petition to declare Grant ineligible

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Read the March 8 notice of allegations to Rep. Ajay Pittman

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