ORU weekly e-mails checked
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Projects Editor
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
1/17/08 at 11:29 AM
For more: Read the latest ORU stories, view the lawsuit and other documents and watch slide shows and video.
The 2004-06 postings are purportedly to Richard
Roberts from his political adviser and sister-in-law.
ORU President Richard Roberts is
urged to use the ''voters and influence'' he controls to reap favors for
Oral Roberts University in two years
of weekly e-mails purportedly sent
to him by his political adviser and
sister-in-law, Stephanie Cantees.
''You intend to make ORU a political powerhouse where candidates
will recognize that they will be expected to be asked questions and if
elected when they come back for re-election they had better have some
thing to show for the votes the students gave them,'' states one e-mail
from ''Stef'' to Roberts' ORU e-mail
address on Dec. 1, 2006.
''Thanks for the update and the
suggestions. Keep them coming every week,'' was the response three
days later, signed RR, from Richard
Roberts' e-mail account.
That response and a similar one
were the only e-mails from Roberts
''I remember a lot of these suggestions she made to me over the years
but that does not mean in any way
shape or form that I agreed with
them believed in them or did them,''
Roberts said Tuesday when contacted by the Tulsa World.
The e-mails span a period from
August 2004 through December
2006, and in them, ''Stef'' advises
Roberts how to curry political favor
with a variety of elected officials.
''You have what they want --
VOTERS AND INFLUENCE. Not
one big donor in this state has what
you have, yearly new crop of ready
made voters (18 years old out of
state) doesn't get any better,'' states
an e-mail to Roberts from ''Stef,'' on
Aug. 19, 2004.
The e-mail, under the heading
''how to get your fair share,''
then urges Roberts to ''invite
every elected official out to the
campus for a personal visit,
lunch and tour.''
The e-mails, which appear
to be sent to Roberts' ORU e-mail address from Cantees
through ORU's Internet server, were delivered to the Tulsa
World on Tuesday by an anonymous source. The e-mails are
quoted here as they were delivered to the Tulsa World,
complete with misspelling,
grammatical errors and abbreviations.
In a statement to the World,
her attorney, Gerald Hilsher,
said: ''It appears that Ms. Cantees is not the only one who
has been the victim of a computer hacker. Even ORU appears vulnerable to the theft of
computer data and the possible alteration of communications and the misidentification
''On Ms. Cantees' behalf, I
have requested the return of
her stolen computer data that
is in the hands of the parties to
the recent litigation, and I
would remind everyone with a
hand on stolen computer data
that there is a state criminal
statute against the possession,
use, and disclosure of stolen
Cantees was paid by Oral
Roberts Evangelistic Association as a community and government liaison. Roberts said
her job was to keep him informed of events and rumors
in the community that may affect ORU.
Roberts has been on a leave
of absence as ORU president
since Oct. 17 while the
school's board and independent auditors investigate allegations made in a lawsuit that
he and his family misused
ORU and Oral Roberts Ministries money and resources.
In the suit, former professor
Tim Brooker claims Roberts
improperly ordered him to use
ORU students in Randi Miller's failed campaign for mayor. Miller was later elected to
the Tulsa County Commission.
In one e-mail dated Jan. 10,
2006, ''Stef'' writes: ''Tim will
have a minimum of 100 students to surround Randi when
she files at 1:00 pm Wednesday.''
The e-mail continues, stating: ''Tim is locating 2 students to assist and if she
chooses run her campaign. . . .
I don't want my name on financial/ethics documents -- red
flag for me to be signing as a
family member of ORU.''
The e-mail later states: ''Tim
and I are organizing a meeting
with all to determine what students can do in the races for
approved candidates. He and I
are aggressively coming up
with the dates and topic for me
to 'talk' with students about
their president and his behind
the scenes efforts in recapturing the moral integrity in politicians.''
Roberts said he did not order Brooker to have his students campaign for Miller. IRS
regulations prohibit nonprofit
organizations, such as ORU,
from lobbying and working directly for candidates.
''She was eyes and ears and
she presented all kinds of ideas and concepts, some of
which were good,'' Roberts
said. ''She had all kinds of suggestions, a lot of which I threw
out of the window.''
In an e-mail dated Oct. 25,
2004, just before a statewide
general election, ''Stef'' suggests that Roberts remind students to vote.
If necessary, ''Stef'' advises
Roberts to tell students during
Chapel service ''you intend to
obtain copies of every voting
record name by name you will
find out just who is participating in their Christian duty of
being salt of the earth.''
In an e-mail dated Dec. 5,
2005, ''Stef'' advises Roberts to
build connections with future
Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor,
then secretary of commerce.
''I suggest you mention
Kathy, you know there are a
lot of my staff being asked and
accepting appointments to
very important boards. I am
hopefully the governor would
include oru in those same areas at a state level.''
The e-mail also notes ''we
have 42 oru grads on the hill in
a variety of positions.''
It later states: ''Could you
clear way for me to call Tim
brooker to meet with him.''
Many e-mails refer to ORU's
need for a tenant in the City of
Faith buildings. In December,
2006, ''Stef'' reminds Roberts
that city and county officials
may want his endorsement on
an upcoming tax for river development.
''To do that, what's in it for
you. Can you spell either student center (log rolling or
pork barrel call it what you
want . . . or Citi-Plex center (I
have a proposal for that when
they come to you and they
In one section of an e-mail,
titled ''what can a commissioner do for the university,'' ''Stef''
lists ''industrial revenue
bonds, student center, renovations, retrofitting, CitiPlex''
and other items.
Several e-mails refer to an
organized effort to get students registered to vote, including passing out registration cards during ORU chapel
In an e-mail dated Nov. 2,
2006, days before a statewide
general election, ''Stef'' discusses a goal to register 80
percent of ORU students as
''Finally we have a way to
show and harness your influence and power,'' the e-mail
states. ''With this effort you
would have the ammunition at
all levels, local, state and federal to bring forth documentation to show you have such influence that 80 percent of your
student body are registered
She notes that ''you get the
power to obtain the much deserved funds resources that
ORU has been overlooked in
their dissemination by elected
officials at all levels.''
She also refers to one candidate for state legislature who
won after ORU students campaigned for him.
''We have talked and he recognized the impact your help
made on him winning,'' the e-mail states.
Ziva Branstetter 581-8378