House Committee Recommends Expulsion Of State Rep. Kirby Over Sexual Harrassment Allegations
A state House committee has recommended the expulsion of a representative from Tulsa.
The House Special Investigation Committee released its report on Thursday into sexual harassment allegations against Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa.
The committee determined that Kirby was in some nature of a relationship with Carol Johnson, a former legislative assistant. Kirby and Johnson would occasionally send inappropriate text messages and topless pictures, some of which Kirby solicited. He also invited her to a strip club. She filed a complaint against Kirby in August.
According to committee chairman Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, Johnson said she was coerced into sending the pictures, an allegation Kirby denies.
“The actions of Rep. Kirby, with respect to Ms. Johnson, were inappropriate and below the standards of a member of the House of Representatives,” Cockroft said.
A two-thirds vote in the House is required to expel Kirby.
Kirby and Johnson had known each other since 2011, and during some of that time she worked as a legislative assistant in Kirby’s office. She said that if she did not comply with Kirby’s requests, he would make her work environment difficult. At one point, he asked for topless photos using code words like “motivation” when she asked for permission to leave work early. Kirby admitted that he occasionally requested topless photos of Johnson. He said the first photo he received was unsolicited, according to the report.
“Rep. Kirby engaged in these activities before, during and between the times Ms. Johnson was employed by the House of Representatives,” Cockroft said. “Further, some of these activities took place on capitol grounds and during regular business hours at the House of Representatives.”
Johnson denied she was ever in a dating relationship with Kirby. Kirby, on the other hand, said their relationship was consensual and twice referred to them as dating.
Kirby deleted some photos to hide their existence, and at one point invited Johnson to a strip club. Cockroft said the committee asked Kirby if it was wrong to receive inappropriate photos from a legislative assistant. Kirby responded that it depended on when the picture was received. He said most pictures were received after hours or when the House was not in session.
“Contrary the stated position of Rep. Kirby, a House member should never solicit and receive inappropriate material from an LA (legislative assistant) or any other House employee no matter during business hours or after business hours,” Cockroft said.
In a written statement, Kirby said he was “disheartened and disappointed” by the committee’s recommendations.
“I do feel that the committee’s recommendations are far more severe than necessary. Unfortunately, I was not given the committee report, any evidence, any accusation, or any other material in relation to the report prior to the media receiving that information during the press conference today,” Kirby wrote. “Because of that, my advisors and I have not been able to review the material to offer a complete public statement at this time. I assure the people of Oklahoma, my colleagues, and my constituents that I will speak publicly about the report and the committee’s findings as soon as I have had time to review it myself most likely in the next couple days.”
The committee also determined former House Speaker Jeff Hickman had the authority to enter into a legal settlement between the House and another former House employee who filed a complaint against Kirby last year.
Cockroft’s committee recommended the formation of a bipartisan committee to review and vote on future legal settlement expenditures from the House operating fund. Cockroft’s committee also recommended Democratic state representative Will Fourkiller be prohibited from having any contact with House pages. A high school page made a complaint that Fourkiller had made comments that made her feel uncomfortable. Fourkiller refused to talk to the committee. Since Fourkiller neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, Cockroft said the statement was taken as true.
The committee recommends Fourkiller attend one-on-one sensitivity training. Fourkiller would still be allowed to host pages at his from his district in his Capitol office, but he cannot have contact with them.