Thursday, December 30, 2010

Edmondson Clears Harry Coates, Female Lobbyist; Bingman Says Probe Over, 'Matter is closed'

Attorney General Drew Edmondson said today that the state properly awarded a contract to a firm tied to Senator Harry Coates and a female lobbyist with whom he had an affair.

Edmondson told Senate President Pro-tem-designate Brian Bingman in a letter that the affair was "irrelevant" and could not have influenced the award of the contract.

Bingman promptly said the investigation is at its end.

“There was no evidence that the process was compromised or undue influence was exerted to justify further investigation of this matter as a potential criminal violation,” investigators wrote after a multicountry grand jury probed the matter," said Edmondson.

Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said, “I am relieved to find that there is no evidence of undue influence or criminal wrongdoing in this matter as the Attorney General’s investigation concluded. The seriousness of the allegations required a full and thorough examination of the facts and an independent review by the Attorney General was needed.

“In the Oklahoma Senate we strive to uphold high standards of conduct. Personal and private behavior should not prohibit our effectiveness at the capitol or bring legitimate official business into question. Thankfully, the independent investigation found none of the criminal allegations to be true and Senator Coates is clear of wrongdoing related to this matter.

"There are no plans at this time for additional inquiries by the Senate. In absence of new information coming to light, I believe this matter is closed and that we should put it behind us," concluded Bingman.

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