A special House investigatory committee was named Monday to look into allegations that led to Rep. Randy Terrill being charged with a felony bribery count. The attorney for Terrill, R-Moore, said he is disappointed the process will be closed to the public. “What the rules imposed on the committee by the leadership create is a period of closed-door investigation in which neither Mr. Terrill nor his counsel are present,” said Terrill’s attorney, Stephen Jones, in a statement. “This closed-door secrecy cannot be justified. The committee is not a grand jury. “The committee will apparently take testimony in secret without cross examination and without the public evaluation of the credibility of the testimony at this critical state,” Jones said. “Without cross examination and publicly opened hearings, the testimony is tentative at best.” The committee’s work is being kept secret “to protect the member in question and to protect the process and the integrity of the House,” said Rep. Fred Jordan, committee chairman. Jordan, R-Jenks, said he didn’t know how long it would take for the committee to complete its work. “We’re going to be very judicious, very professional and very thorough in our investigation,” he said. “It could take some time.” The committee met briefly Monday to adopt rules that will govern the investigatory process, according to a statement issued by House Speaker Kris Steele, who appointed the eight bipartisan members. The group, made up of four Republicans and four Democrats, is charged with gathering evidence and ultimately making a recommendation to the full House if the committee finds sufficient evidence exists that Terrill “has engaged in conduct which impairs the ability of the member to perform the duties of his or her office, or substantially impairs public confidence in the Legislature.” Under the rules adopted, committee members cannot discuss the investigation while it is ongoing to protect the member under investigation and all witnesses, as well as to protect the integrity of the process, Steele said. The group’s findings and recommendation will be released to the public, Steele said. Terrill is accused of offering former Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, a bribe in the form of an $80,000-a-year state job to not seek re-election. Leftwich is accused in a separate felony count of soliciting and/or accepting the bribe. Terrill and Leftwich have denied wrongdoing. The alleged activity occurred during last year’s session, which ended in late May. According to court documents, witnesses reported Terrill was the legislator who had the position added to a reform bill. Officials at the medical examiner’s office said he pressured them to hire Leftwich. The House investigative panel will not interfere with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater’s plans to pursue the criminal proceedings, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said earlier. The rules adopted call for a multipart process. In the first phase, the committee or its attorney will conduct an investigation and gather evidence. Upon completion of the gathering process, all information will be provided to members of the committee. At that point, committee members will determine if the evidence is sufficient to warrant additional proceedings. If so, a written report outlining the evidence will then be provided to Terrill, who will then have 14 days to respond in writing and to request an opportunity to present additional evidence. At the conclusion of that process, the committee will vote on whether to recommend disciplinary action to the full House of Representatives. Throughout the process, the committee will have subpoena power to compel witness testimony and production of documentary evidence. When finished with its work, the committee will submit a report of its findings to the House, which will be filed in the chief clerk’s office. The report will be made available to the public. A final decision would then be left up to the full membership of the House during a floor session.Comments
TERRILL COMMITTEEThe special investigatory committee looking into allegations involving Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Rep. Fred Jordan, R-Jenks, is chairman. He is a former U.S. Marine Corps judge advocate and attorney who is chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Chouteau, an attorney, is vice chairman. Other members are: â€¢Rep. Gary Banz, R-Midwest City. â€¢Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove. â€¢Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs. â€¢Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa. â€¢Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford. â€¢Rep. Purcy Walker, D-Elk City.