House probe

State Reps. Kevin McDugle (left) and Chris Kannady

An independent investigator hired by the Oklahoma House of Representatives could not substantiate claims that two male House members behaved inappropriately toward a female colleague two years ago, according to a statement released late Thursday.

“Ultimately, the details provided by the complainant diverged significantly from those provided by the accused and witnesses,” House general counsel Chelsea Smith said in a written statement. “Under the circumstances, the investigator was unable to substantiate the allegations of wrongdoing by any member.”

The investigation was conducted by labor attorney Courtney Warmington.

Conservative activist Al Gerhart prompted the investigation with his claim that representatives Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, and Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, behaved inappropriately toward a woman who at the time was a fellow House member.

According to Gerhart, Kannady touched the woman’s leg while McDugle tried to show her a video on his phone.

A third male representative, Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, was alleged to have been present but was not accused of wrongdoing.

Gerhart himself was not present.

“The accused and witnesses maintain that no video was ever shown to the complaining party (who was a colleague and peer at the time) and that they were not aware of anyone touching anyone’s leg,” Smith said in her statement. “There were no other first-hand witnesses to this incident — which allegedly occurred more than two years ago at a private, off-site, social gathering.”

McDugle and Fetgatter have publicly denied anything untoward occurred. Kannady has declined comment.

In a text late Thursday night, McDugle said the accusations were part of a continuing effort by Gerhart to “ruin my reputation by writing articles with outright lies and misinformation. His goal is to have legislators who disagree with him tried in the court of public opinion.”

Gerhart has been at odds with the three legislators for various reasons, including their support of new taxes to support public schools and Kannady’s efforts to oust several Gerhart allies from the House. His weekly newsletter has published several attacks on the lawmakers.

Thursday’s statement did not address Gerhart’s allegations that Kannady has acted inappropriately with several other women.

Friday, Gerhart said he believes those allegations have not been investigated and should be. He called the investigation of the initial charges a “kangaroo court” and pushed back against claims he is merely on a vendetta against certain lawmakers.

“It’s not only a matter of politics,” he said. “It’s also character. Does it mean something gets swept under the rug because it involves somebody I do not like?

“When people say Al Gerhart is always wrong, that’s B.S.,” Gerhart said. “I’m right more than I’m wrong.”


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Randy Krehbiel

918-581-8365

randy.krehbiel@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @rkrehbiel

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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