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Candidates for Oklahoma County Court Clerk spar over computer use

Salome Vaughn says her opponent, Tim Rhodes, used computer equipment in the Oklahoma County court clerk's office to conduct background investigations on her and three others. Rhodes denies any wrongdoing.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Published: April 26, 2012

In a formal complaint filed Wednesday at the state attorney general's office, a candidate for Oklahoma County office accused an opponent of misusing taxpayer resources.

Salome Vaughn alleges that Tim Rhodes used a state computer and network within the county court clerk's office, where he works, to conduct background investigations on her and three other candidates for office.

The two are among five Republican candidates vying for the vacant county court clerk seat in a primary election June 26.

No Democrat filed for the seat.

Vaughn said she filed the complaint in response to testimony Rhodes provided under oath at Monday's determination of candidacy hearings at the Oklahoma County Election Board.

During questioning by Vaughn's attorney, Pat Crawley, Rhodes said he “may have” used the county computer to research the backgrounds of his opponents.

“Mr. Rhodes' admission that he may have used taxpayer resources for personal gain in the political arena to research his opponents is at least an ethical violation if not a crime,” Vaughn wrote in a letter attached to her complaint.

Rhodes, who has worked as the county's chief deputy court clerk for 15 years, told The Oklahoman that while he does not remember whether or not he used his office computer to conduct the background checks, he is certain he has not violated any law or rule.

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