IF Ed Shadid's public persona was confined to his being Dr. Shadid, trying to keep why he took the Fifth Amendment and his divorce records sealed might be understandable. But he's also Oklahoma City Councilman Shadid. And he wants to be Mayor Shadid.
And if Ed Shadid didn't tout transparency in his campaign literature, the inconsistency of his secrecy stance wouldn't be so apparent.
Shadid is fighting The Oklahoman's attempts to have the divorce records unsealed, including why he took the Fifth, and claiming that the newspaper is making a mockery of the judicial system. With circular reasoning, he is stonewalling on the Fifth Amendment question.
In recent weeks, Shadid has been candid about his recovery from a self-confessed addiction to marijuana. If this is the crux of the stuff Shadid wants to keep secret, the issue is moot. If he took the Fifth because of prior marijuana use, there's no need to maintain it: he's openly admitted his drug usage. If he took the Fifth for some reason involving other criminal activity, voters need to know what that reason is. Asking for the public to trust him isn't enough.
The mockery claim is easily debunked. The newspaper sent a letter to the judge who handled the contentious divorce case in 2006-2007. We requested that the record be unsealed because Shadid is running for mayor. The judge said she would likely unseal the records because of Shadid's candidacy, but not before hearing both sides. A scheduled hearing never took place, because Shadid tried to get the Oklahoma Supreme Court to order that his records could remain sealed. The court has declined to do so.
Most divorce cases are open to the public rather than being sealed from public view. Mayor Mick Cornett, who is seeking another term (the election is March 4), also went through a divorce in recent years. He did not attempt to keep its details secret.
Shadid can't have it both ways. He wants to serve in the highest office in city government. A mayor is Oklahoma City's chief ambassador to the outside world. Shadid's past rhetoric has been laced with innuendo about secrecy and cronyism in the administration of MAPS 3. Now Shadid is benefiting from sealed divorce records whose release may or may not paint his past in a different light than the one he would have us believe.
Shadid and his supporters will paint the newspaper's pursuit of truth as an attempt to keep him from being elected. We are instead perfectly content to let voters make that decision on March 4. But we would like them to make the decision fully armed with information about the character of the top two candidates in this race.
Shadid should want this as well. Yet his fight to keep the records sealed — and his messenger-blaming and judge-shopping — shows he'd rather the voters not have access to key information on his character, and questions of character are always relevant.
The Oklahoman is seeking information, not building a case against Shadid's qualifications for mayor. We haven't agreed with his stance on some issues, but do admire the diversity of thought he has brought to the council. And we applaud his recovery from an addiction. Asking questions about his past is in line with Shadid's own method of seeking and questioning.
Ed Shadid chose to be a public servant. It's time that Mayoral Candidate Shadid go public with information that he asked to be sealed back when he was Citizen Shadid.