NORMAN — The state multicounty grand jury will investigate whether Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan violated the law when he accepted $19,900 in state funds from a road project he voted for, The Oklahoman has learned.
The state paid Sullivan and his wife in March 2011 to compensate them for damage to their property from improvements to Etowah Road near Noble. They live on about nine acres at 6900 E Etowah Road.
The state also paid about 100 other property owners along the six-mile stretch covered by the project. The commissioner and his wife donated the land for the right of way, giving up an additional $1,150 payment.
Sullivan, 61, denied wrongdoing.
“I think that I've made some powerful, political enemies because I'm nobody's boy. I vote my mind,” he told The Oklahoman Thursday.
“I think it's a political witch hunt honestly. I think they've timed this thing where it will come out before my primary. ... Even though I've done nothing wrong, the damage will be done. ... I think there's some folks that would rather have someone else than me because I'm pretty conservative in what I believe and what I do. I really believe that's what this is about.”
He did not name his enemies.
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said he asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into the payment to Sullivan.
“I asked the OSBI to look into it. Once they began wrapping up their investigation, I recused and asked the attorney general's office to take it from there,” Mashburn said.
He took himself off any decision in the case because one of his assistants at the time was involved in the process.
An OSBI special agent notified county commissioners by letter in August that “this office is investigating criminal allegations surrounding the Etowah Road Project.” Sullivan confirmed he spoke with an OSBI agent for about 15 minutes last year.