Tulsa, OK – The Tulsa City Council has received a letter from the office of the Oklahoma Attorney General, stating that there are legal grounds which prevent them from appointing a special prosecutor to review the Council's investigative report concerning Terry Simonson and Mayor Dewey Bartlett. Those same legal grounds also prevent the Attorney General from reviewing the report and advising the City Council on how to proceed. The letter from the Attorney General did not discuss the merits of the report or whether they believed that criminal charges are warranted. It only stated that Oklahoma law will not allow them to become involved.
Based upon the Attorney General's letter, together with the Tulsa City Attorney's recusal of her staff and her refusal to appoint a special prosecutor, it appears that there can be no determination by a neutral prosecutor as to whether Mr. Simonson and Mayor Bartlett violated the law. "Sometimes, the law does not provide a just result" said Council Chairman Rick Westcott. "But, the law must always be obeyed. Furthermore, the City Council has fulfilled it duty and responsibility under the City Charter to investigate allegations of misconduct by government officials."
The Council was given a letter by three Deputy Police Chiefs which made very detailed allegations of criminal conduct by Mr. Simonson and the Mayor. According to Councilor Westcott, "The Council had a responsibility to the citizens, to the Deputy Chiefs, and to Mr. Simonson and Mayor Bartlett to investigate. In order to keep the investigation free from even the appearance of political influence, we hired an outside investigator. After retaining him, we stepped aside and had no contact with him during the course of his investigation. He conducted a very thorough investigation, interviewing two dozen people and reviewing dozens of documents. "
The Councilor continued, "When he presented his report to the Council, we carefully discussed it and reviewed the options which were presented to us. Rather than issue our own finding of fact, we referred the Report to the Tulsa City Prosecutor. The City Attorney recused herself and all Assistant City Attorneys, including the City Prosecutor. She then refused to appoint a special prosecutor to handle this matter. The Council believed that we had sufficient legal justification to seek assistance from the Attorney General's office. Again, they believe that Oklahoma law will not allow them to provide any assistance and we respect their opinion."
"Unfortunately, the result is that there is no independent prosecutor who can review the report and decide whether the Mayor and Mr. Simonson broke the law. The citizens of Tulsa are left to ponder very detailed accusations against the Mayor and Mr. Simonson by three very well-respected career Police Officers, a two hundred page investigative report with over two dozen interviews, and no one to decide the outcome. From Mr. Simonson and Mayor Bartlett's point of view, the allegations against them will not be proved true or false."
Councilor Rick Westcott concluded, "The City Council has fulfilled its responsibility under the Charter as an investigative body by providing oversight for city government. The only persons left with any recourse are the citizens of Tulsa."