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DA says enemies behind OSBI party investigation

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater blames foes for an OSBI inquiry into a 2006 victory party.
BY NOLAN CLAY Published: October 28, 2011

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater confirmed Thursday the OSBI is investigating his 2006 campaign and he blamed his enemies.

“When you go after powerful people, you make powerful enemies,” he told The Oklahoman. “I welcome the investigation.”

Prater, a Democrat, denied doing anything wrong. He said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation notified him last week of the inquiry. He said agents have not interviewed him yet.

The OSBI is investigating allegations of official misconduct, OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said. OSBI Director Stan Florence said, “It is sensitive. … We want this matter cleared up, too. We're going to hopefully get this resolved one way or the other in fairly short order.”

The attorney general's office requested the investigation last week, the OSBI spokeswoman said.

OSBI agents have been questioning private attorneys about a victory party thrown for Prater on Nov. 20, 2006, at Cafe Nova, an upscale Oklahoma City restaurant. Several attorneys confirmed to The Oklahoman on Thursday that agents have asked them about the party.

Hundreds attended the victory party, which was paid for by attorneys. Prater defeated the incumbent district attorney, Wes Lane, on Nov. 7, 2006.

At issue is whether the victory party was a fundraiser and whether the money spent by attorneys on the party should have been reported as campaign donations.

Prater said, “There was no money solicited at the party. It was not a fundraiser. It was a victory party only. … There's nothing wrong with that party.”

Prater reported collecting $5,900 from 12 donors on Nov. 20, 2006. He said most of those donations came in the mail that day. He said he did take about three or four donations at the party.

He also said, “I have personal knowledge that powerful people we are currently prosecuting are behind this effort. The investigation will bear this out.”

Prater did not name anyone specifically. His assistants are currently prosecuting a well-known legislator, state Rep. Randy Terrill, on a bribery charge. They also are prosecuting Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure on a fraud charge.

Terrill's attorney, Stephen Jones, said Thursday night the legislator did not take the accusations to the attorney general. The judge's attorney, David Autry, said she is not behind it, to his knowledge.

Prater also has angered many by prosecuting an Oklahoma City pharmacist for fatally shooting a wounded robber. The pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, was convicted of first-degree murder. The pharmacist's lead attorney, Irven Box, would not discuss whether he took accusations about the party to the attorney general.

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