Case claims AT&T owes Oklahoma $16 billion over ‘67 bribery scandal

A case before the Oklahoma Supreme Court could result in AT&T paying $16 billion dollars to the state due to a bribery scandal in the Oklahoma Corporation Commission decades ago.

The plaintiffs in the case want the utility to pay for its role in the bribery scandal.

The case involved former Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice N.C. Corn and former Commissioner Bob Hopkins, who accepted bribes to change certain votes. If the court were to rule against AT&T (formerly Southwestern Bell), ratepayers would get a refund and state government could receive $220 million (or more).

In a letter to the Oklahoman newspaper, Sody McCampbell Clements of Oklahoma, the lead applicant in the refund case, wrote that new evidence points to fraud on the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Newly disclosed evidence indicates that officials from Southwestern Bell lied under oath and that they provided cash payments for bribery.

Other applicants in the case include (Retired) Lt. General Richard A. Burpee (former commander of Tinker Air Force Base), James  Proctor, Rodd A. Moesel; Ray H. Potts and Bob A. Ricks. Their petition wants to override a 2-1 vote by current Corporation Commissioners to put an end to the legal actions.

“Justice delayed any further is justice denied,” wrote Oliver “Buck” Revell, who formerly was the FBI director’s deputy in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division.” Bribery is unconstitutional and it’s time AT&T refunded billions to Oklahoma ratepayers – including state government.”

A group called Oklahomans Against Bribery estimates that if the court finds against AT&T, the utility would have to refund an average of $10,000 to individual Oklahomans.

They argue that a vote determined by a bribe should not stand, even if it happened more than 25 years ago. Attorneys for the defendants have actually argued that “bribed votes do count.”

Johnson v. Johnson was a 1967 decision addressing the bribery scandal at the Oklahoma Supreme Court. In the 1960s, Justice Corn confessed to taking bribes throughout his term on the Oklahoma Supreme Court and he testified about giving some of the money with two other justices as well.

In that case, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided not to reopen all the decisions involving Corn that could have been affected by his corruption. But the court did indicate that some remedy was warranted and reserving the right for those wronged to petition for a hearing.