Blackwell Questions Terrill Probe Counsel Lester
|Rep. Gus Blackwell|
Here is the text of the Blackwell letter:
Dear Mr. Lester: You have recently been retained to serve as counsel for an Oklahoma House of Representatives Investigative Committee.
As you may be aware, serious allegations have arisen that call into question your fitness to fulfill this role.
As members of the House of Representatives, we need additional information from you to determine whether or not you are the proper person to be involved with this most important task. Although you answered one question by phone after you left the meeting, I still have several unanswered questions I need answered. So, please give the following questions your careful consideration and respond to each in detail within five business days of receipt of this letter.
1. It is alleged that political consultants arranged, at least in part, for you to handle this matter in a manner which would protect people who currently hold or in the past held positions of leadership with Oklahoma’s government.
a. Prior to formation of the investigative committee, have you had any communications with political consultants regarding or related to the facts surrounding this investigative committee or the investigation by District Attorney David Prater? If so, please state the person you had these communications with, the dates and subject matter of these communications.
b. Prior to formation of the investigative committee, have you discussed facts or legal theories related to the incident in question with former Speaker Chris Benge, former Representative Ken Miller, orformer Senator Glenn Coffee? If so, please state the person you had these conversations with, the dates and subject matter of these communications.
c. Prior to formation of the investigative committee, have you had communications regarding anything related to this incident with former Governor Brad Henry? If so, please state the purpose of that conversation, what was discussed and, when it occurred.
d. Are you now or have you ever been in a business or professional partnership with former Governor Brad Henry? If so, please describe the nature and extent of your relationship.
2. It is alleged that the investigative proceedings were intentionally designed to proceed in such a manner so as to obscure misdeeds of certain individuals who currently hold or in the past held positions of leadership with Oklahoma’s government, but at the same time designed to smear the reputation of Representative Randy Terrill.
a. Is it true that even before an announcement there would be an investigative committee, you had already drawn up the rules in concert with certain members with the House leadership?
b. When did you first begin working on these rules, and when did you first begin discussing these rules with House leadership?
c. Have these rules ever been discussed with District Attorney David Prater? If so, please detail those conversations, correspondence and meetings.
d. Have you ever discussed the need to keep the process confidential to protect certain individuals?
3. It was announced that you are not investigating whether or not Representative Terrill violated a rule of the House, broke a law or even violated the Constitution. Instead, you are investigating whether he his actions hurt public confidence in the House of Representatives.
a. Why are you only investigating Representative Terrill in this regard? If you find that, related to the incidence under question, other members of the House, current or past, took action that hurt public confidence in the House of Representatives, will you similarly issue a report on their conduct?
b. Why did you use this vague standard instead of investigating whether or not Representative Terrill broke a House rule or violated the law?
4. It has been claimed that the rules are designed to “protect the privacy of witnesses.” Does that protection extend to covering up the potential misdeeds of other members of the legislature?
5. How are we to distinguish between “protecting the privacy of witnesses” from simply covering up the misdeeds of the leadership?
6. Will a report issued by this committee detail the extent to which the House and Senate leadership was involved with the incident under investigation? As a final matter, Mr. Lester we must note that on March 1, 2011 you were to have a meeting at the capitol in which you were to discuss the investigative process with members of the House and answer any questions we had. During that meeting you communicated with House members in an arrogant and condescending tone. Your answers to our questions were hostile and evasive.
Finally, you unilaterally declared the meeting over and unexpectedly bolted from the room. Mr. Lester, I remind you that you work for the House of Representatives. Your conduct was insulting not only to the members present, but to the institution which we serve. Regardless of what you may think of us as individuals, each member represents more than 35,000 people in the State of Oklahoma, and we are here doing work on their behalf.
In the future, should you ever come back to the people's House, you are hereby admonished to treat the institution with the dignity it demands.
Sincerely, Rep. Gus Blackwell