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Day One in Terrill/Leftwich Hearing

Filed by Michael Cross in Feature, Local News, News, Politics.
November 1, 2011

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A second day for a preliminary hearing against two lawmakers, one former and one current takes place later today at the Oklahoma County Courthouse.

On Monday, State Representative Randy Terrill and former Senator Debbe Leftwich got a chance to face their accusers in a court of law.

The two face bribery charges as prosecutors say Terrill offered Leftwich an $80,000 a year job at the Medical Examiner’s Office if she promised not to run for reelection in 2010.

The state’s first witness was Cherokee Ballard, the legislative liaison for the ME’s Office.

Ballard testified about a closed door meeting with Terrill and at the time the current Chief Administrative Office for the agency, Tom Jordan.

She recalls Terrill calling the meeting “Dead Man’s Talk” which she says meant it was confidential.

Ballard says Terrill asked about creating the position of Transition Coordinator which Leftwich would fill and even negotiating her $80,000 a year salary.

The meeting was confirmed by Jordan who has since left to work in the private sector.

Jordan also testified that he met with Leftwich and Terrill at the Warren Theater in Moore only days after the bill with the job had passed.

He says Terrill wanted Leftwich hired for the position even though the bill was still sitting on the Governor’s desk.

Jordan voiced concerns about a lawmaker getting a state appropriated position within two years of leaving office: a clear violation of Oklahoma’s constitution.

Governor Henry eventually vetoed the bill after Oklahoma County DA David Prater began an investigation of Terrill and Leftwich.

The state alleges that Terrill wanted Leftwich, a Democrat, to drop out so Representative Mike Christian, a Republican could run for the seat.

Ballard even testified that Leftwich had confirmed Christian’s intention to seek the Senate seat.

Christian chose not to run for Leftwich’s seat and instead won reelection for his own House district
Prosecutors also produced a surveillance tape from the Warren Theater.

The third witness on Monday, the general manager of the theater, confirmed that it was recorder on June 2nd.

The preliminary hearing is expected to last until at least Thursday.

Several lawmakers could take the stand, and the defense has named Former Governor Brad Henry as a possible witness along with House Speaker Kris Steele.

Special Judge Stephen Alcorn will decide if there is enough evidence to send the case to a trial.

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