Kirby settlement agreement is subject of a committee

Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Charles A. McCall’s first action as Speaker on January 3 was to authorize a bipartisan House Rules Committee to begin investigating the wrongful termination settlement agreement paid to a former employee in November out of House funds.

There are questions about the payments made to settle a sexual harassment complaint against state Rep. Dan Kirby. In December, Kirby resigned because of the controversy but since has changed his mind and will fight the charges. Records indicate $44,500 in House of Representatives funds were used to settle a sexual harassment complaint filed against Kirby, 58, R-Tulsa, by his former legislative assistant, Hollie Anne Bishop, 28. Bishop was paid $28,414.20 via an invoice marked under “legal settlements,” KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City reported. Bishop’s Edmond attorneys received a $16,085.80 payment, KWTV reported.

Former House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, authorized the settlement payments.

The committee will begin meeting in January and will have “special authority” to investigate that settlement, the allegations that led to the settlement and the House process for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment. In addition, the committee will review the authority of the House to use operational funds to settle claims and will also review all prior sexual harassment allegations against current House members.

McCall said all findings by the committee will be made public, and the House will take any available actions against lawmakers warranted by the investigation. McCall announced membership of the House Rules Committee, the bipartisan standing House committee he has authorized to begin investigating the wrongful termination settlement agreement paid to a former employee in November out of House funds.

The committee members are:

State Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette

State Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore

State Rep. Elise Hall, R-Oklahoma City

State Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City

State Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Tulsa

State Rep. Weldon Watson, R-Tulsa

State Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs

State Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasha

State Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa

Earlier, McCall appointed state Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, to serve as chair of the House Rules Committee, and state Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, to serve as vice chair.