Witness testifies he was told to keep quiet about rumor senator would get state job

Testimony comes on second day of preliminary hearing in political bribery case.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Published: November 2, 2011
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A state representative testified Tuesday he was told to keep quiet after he drank too much at a party and talked about rumors a senator was getting a state job.

The testimony came on the second day of a preliminary hearing in the political bribery case against state Rep. Randy Terrill and former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich.

The witness, Rep. Mike Christian, told a judge that Terrill and then Leftwich spoke to him at the Capitol in May 2010 — a day or so after the party — about being quiet.

Christian quoted Terrill, R-Moore, as saying, “Hey, Senator Leftwich wanted me to relay a message: You need to be quiet. … Pipe down.”

He testified that he asked if he needed to apologize and that Terrill said, “No.”

He testified Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, later came up to him, hugged his neck and said, “You need to be quiet. You're going to get me in trouble.”

Christian at the time intended to run for Leftwich's Senate seat and then run in 2012 for Oklahoma County sheriff. Leftwich announced on May 28, 2010 — the last day of the legislative session — that she would not seek re-election.

Terrill, 42, is accused of offering Leftwich a bribe — an $80,000-a-year medical examiner's job — to not run for re-election. Prosecutors allege he acted to improve the chances his friend, Christian, would win her Senate seat.

Leftwich, 60, is accused in a separate felony count of soliciting and/or accepting a bribe.

Leftwich never got the job. Gov. Brad Henry in June 2010 vetoed the reform bill that would have created the job of transition coordinator at the medical examiner's office.

Christian was never charged

Christian, a Republican, dropped plans to run for the Senate after prosecutors said they were investigating how the job was created. Christian later won re-election to his south Oklahoma City House seat.

Prosecutors initially investigated Christian, too, but did not charge him. He said he did not make any deals with prosecutors for his testimony because he doesn't know of any crime that was committed. Christian testified he told a district attorney's investigator, “If I had smelled any impropriety, I would have been the first one to scream foul.”

He testified a distraught Leftwich approached him in tears in March 2010 and asked him if he was running for her seat. He said he then had a “stealth campaign” already under way. He said, “I denied somewhat running against her. I was less than truthful with Senator Leftwich.”

Ongoing coverage: Political Corruption Investigation