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
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.
Box did acknowledge he was at the 2006 victory party and that he gave Prater a $1,000 donation there. He also said OSBI agents have questioned him.
The attorney general's office would not answer any questions about the investigation, including what prompted it. “We cannot confirm whether or not we are conducting investigations,” said public information officer Karee Pyeatt.
A purported invoice for the party — obtained by The Oklahoman — said the total cost was $12,729. The bill shows beer, wine and liquor were served along with beer-battered green beans, kettle chips, chicken brochettes, mini prime rib sandwiches and salmon canapes.
Oklahoma City attorney Scott Adams said OSBI agents interviewed him Wednesday for about 30 minutes about the party. He said he helped pay for the victory party with about five or six other people. He said he personally spent $2,000 on it.
“There wasn't a contribution table set up. David didn't ask for any money,” Adams said. “I guess David's made a lot of people mad … and I guess they're just firing rockets at him.”
Attorney Ron Wallace, who said he paid $2,000 for the party, plans to meet with agents next week. Wallace said there was nothing wrong with the party.
“It's just like you throw a birthday party for somebody,” he said of the event.
Several attorneys said one of the accusations is that attorney Lewis B. Moon actually paid for the entire party himself by credit card and that Prater since has shown favorable treatment of Moon.
Moon was arrested in 2008. Police reported he was intoxicated while in control of a white Cadillac Escalade going the wrong way at a restaurant drive-thru. He faces a felony charge of spitting on an officer. The case is still pending, and Prater has handled it personally.
Moon's attorney, John Coyle, said Thursday that Moon remembers he might have helped pay for the victory party but certainly did not pay $12,000 for it. Coyle also said Prater actually has been tough on Moon in the felony case.
Coyle said it's taken some time to get the case resolved because of Prater's hard stance.