A Tulsa state representative accused of sexual harassment remained silent Wednesday as a local activist called for his resignation.
Rep. Dan Kirby, a Republican recently elected to his fifth term representing parts of Tulsa and Broken Arrow, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday after We the People Oklahoma leader Marq Lewis said Kirby should resign immediately.
On Tuesday, The Oklahoman reported that the Oklahoma House of Representatives quietly paid Kirby’s former assistant and her attorney $44,500 to settle a sexual harassment complaint against Kirby.
The payment was made from House operational funds.
One of the Legislature’s most publicity-shy members, Kirby has remained characteristically silent about the situation, which apparently dates back more than a year and culminated in the firing of the woman, Hollie Anne Bishop, in November 2015.
“Rep. Kirby’s behavior should not be dismissed or excused,” Lewis said in a written statement on Wednesday. “We call for the immediate resignation of Rep. Dan Kirby. His actions are not only intolerable, but irresponsible and harmful. He must resign immediately.”
Lewis and We the People were instrumental in the downfall of former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz last year.
In her tort claim filed in January, Bishop’s attorney, Justin D. Meek, said Kirby began sexually harassing Bishop shortly after she started working for him in January 2015. He called Kirby’s actions unwanted and unwarranted and said they created a hostile work environment.
The claim says Bishop reported Kirby’s claims to the House of Representatives’ human resource director and the House general counsel. She requested assignment to another state representative and was told the matter would be properly handled, according to the claim.
After Bishop reported Kirby’s behavior, the claim states, he started to ignore all communications from her and “otherwise retaliated by attempting to prevent her from performing her job.”
When Bishop was terminated from her position in November 2015, she was told “it was in the best interests of the House of Representatives that she not be told the reasons for termination,” the claim states.
The Oklahoma Democratic Party put out a release Wednesday saying it is “deeply concerned” about the use of state funds to pay the claim against Kirby, with party chairman Mark Hammons calling it a serious issue.
“There must be a complete and immediate investigation into this action and a full disclosure of the nature of the claims against Rep. Kirby and the authority for the payment,” Hammons said in the statement.
Kirby, 58, is a Tulsa real estate professional with two grown children. He is not married. In recent years, his legislative activities have been highlighted by attempts to improve the safety of high school athletics in the state, particularly in regard to head injuries. He also regularly carries routine legislation dealing with insurance and bail bondsmen.
Kirby’s district reaches from the Interstate 44/Broken Arrow Expressway interchange east to the Wagoner County line, mostly between 31st and 61st streets.