Oklahoma Senate Strips Member of His Powers

OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – The Oklahoma Senate stripped a state senator of his powers Wednesday as police investigate why he was found in a hotel room with a teenage boy last week.

By 43-0 vote, senators approved a resolution accusing Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, of “disorderly behavior.” No charges have been filed against Shortey.

Co-sponsored by 44 of the Senate’s 48 members, the resolution removes Shortey from Senate committees and kicks him out of his Capitol office and parking space. He will continue to receive his $38,400 annual salary, but will no longer have an executive assistant or any expense allowances. He is also blocked from writing new bills.

Shortey could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He was not present for the vote. Police in the suburb of Moore are investigating the March 9 incident, in which they say they responded to a welfare check request at a hotel when they found Shortley with the boy.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus, who wrote the resolution, said it was not intended to be a “presumption of guilt or innocence.”

“The Oklahoma Senate has full faith that the judicial system will play out appropriately and bring this matter to a lawful conclusion,” Schulz said in a statement in lieu of his weekly meeting with reporters. “This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light.”

If charged or convicted, the Senate could move to remove Shortey from office with a minimum of 32 votes.

The Oklahoma Republican Party distanced itself from Shortey.

“No person, particularly a child, should be subjected to sex crimes,” party Chairwoman Pam Pollard said in a statement. “While we believe in the right to a fair trial and that all people deserve their day in court, the accusations against Ralph Shortey are in no way in line with the principles of the Oklahoma Republican Party.”

According to the police report from the officers who went to the hotel, the boy’s father told them his son “has a history of soliciting himself on Craigslist for sexual conduct.” The author of the police report, M. Sgt. J White, wrote that he and the two officers who accompanied him “could smell a strong odor of raw marijuana emitting from the hotel room.” Searching the room with permission, White wrote, the officers found a bottle of lotion and an open box of condoms.

Shortey was re-elected in November to his fourth term. He says on his Senate website: “Senator Shortey’s priorities in the Legislature include personal liberty, fighting illegal immigration and strengthening public safety in Oklahoma.”

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