Oklahoma district attorneys are outraged at a proposed bill prohibiting them from prosecuting state officials for public crimes.
House Bill 2206, proposed by Republican Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-OKC) would cover state elected officials, legislators, district court and appellate judges, and appointees to state boards and state commissions, and would limit those prosecutions to Oklahoma’s Attorney General according to a report by KSWO.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater questions the motivation for the bill and is quoted by The Oklahoman as saying:
It’s a big deal to me. I’m upset and concerned. This bill creates a different class of citizens that would be protected from the normal prosecution process.
According to Prater, the bill is retaliation for his prosecutions of legislators, a judge and members of the Pardon and Parole Board.
“I am suspicious … that is what this is really about,” Prater is quoted as saying.
Other district attorneys throughout the state are questioning the reasoning behind Calvey’s proposal as well saying that “giving exclusive authority to the attorney general would not resolve his concerns,” as reported by The Oklahoman.
“How does shifting the responsibility of prosecution from one politically elected official to another politically elected official solve the problem?” said Richard Smothermon, the district attorney of Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties. “The attorney general probably faces more political pressure on a day-to-day basis than I’ve ever faced.”
KSWO adds that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt did not request the legislation and considers it unnecessary.
“We partner and work with district attorneys across the state in investigations and prosecutions utilizing the grand jury process on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma,” said Pruitt’s press secretary, Will Gattenby, adding “If the attorney general has reason to believe that there is any political … persecution involved in a prosecution brought by a DA in the state of Oklahoma, he can step in and take that case over without asking anyone permission.”
For his part, Calvey claims his motivation was over his outrage at what he describes as the “malicious prosecution” in Texas of former Gov. Rick Perry, not because of events in Oklahoma.
However, if that is truly his reasonging, consider that several grand jury members have come out publicly dismissing claims the indictments against Perry were politically motivated and just recently as last week, and for the second time, “Judge Bert Richardson, who was elected as a Republican to the nine-member Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, has ruled Rick Perry must stand trial on [those] corruption charges” and there is every reason to believe the case will indeed result in a full trial.