by: Tim Talley
A former Oklahoma lawmaker accused of bribery is scheduled to go to trial Monday, almost three years after the felony charge was filed by an Oklahoma County prosecutor.
Leftwich is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 9. Both have pleaded not guilty and face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted.
Prosecutors have alleged Terrill and Leftwich schemed to set Leftwich up in an $80,000-a-year job at the state Medical Examiner’s Office so a Republican colleague of Terrill’s, current Rep. Mike Christian of Oklahoma City, could run for her open seat in 2010.
Christian launched a campaign for the seat but pulled out when the investigation was announced. He was not charged and was re-elected to his House seat.
Christian testified at the preliminary hearing where Terrill and Leftwich were ordered to trial on the bribery charge and is expected to testify during Terrill’s trial.
Along with bribery, prosecutors attempted to charge Terrill and Leftwich with conspiracy. But the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld former Special Judge Stephen Alcorn‘s November 2011 ruling that there was insufficient evidence to try the two former lawmakers for conspiracy.
An affidavit filed in the case says Terrill wrote a bill that would create the job of “transition coordinator” at the Medical Examiner’s Office for Leftwich and used a separate bill to divert $90,000 to the office from a fund at the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. Former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry vetoed both measures after the bribery allegations surfaced.
Defense attorneys have said Terrill did not have the authority to promise Leftwich a job, and that Leftwich wasn’t technically a candidate for re-election because she never filed the required paperwork with the state Election Board. Terrill left the Legislature last year.
Defense attorneys have also said the actions of Terrill and Leftwich were constitutionally protected because they were acting in their official capacity as legislators.
Defense attorneys have repeatedly asked state appellate courts to block the prosecution, claiming that it will disrupt the balance of power in state government and unconstitutionally allow prosecutors to question lawmakers about their activities.
Prosecutors claim many conversations involving the alleged plot occurred outside the lawmakers’ official duties.
This article was written by Tim Talley and originally published on sfgate