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An Oklahoma State Representative is accused of sexually harassing his legislative aide, firing her in retaliation when she complained, and then paying a settlement to her and her attorneys out of taxpayer funds meant to run the House of Representatives. Rep. Dan Kirby hasn’t responded to the allegations, and it’s unclear just who in the House signed off on those checks.
Earlier this week, The Oklahoman reported that Kirby, 58, was accused of sexual harassment by Hollie Anne Bishop, 28, not long after she started working for him in January 2015. Bishop filed a complaint with the House’s human resources division and its general counsel in September and asked to be transferred to another lawmaker’s office. She was assured she couldn’t be fired, her attorneys wrote in a letter to the House obtained by the Oklahoman:
She was promised the matter would be properly handled and told she could not be fired for reporting the harassment, the attorney wrote.
“However ... Rep. Kirby started ignoring all communications from Ms. Bishop and otherwise retaliated by attempting to prevent her from performing her job duties exactly as she had prior to reporting the harassment,” the attorney wrote.
When she was fired, “she was only told it was in the best interests of the House of Representatives that she not be told the reasons for termination,” the attorney wrote.
Bishop’s attorneys demanded compensation for retaliation and wrongful termination for her in January, and the House quickly paid up, before she filed a lawsuit. Bishop was paid $28,414.20 out of a House of Representatives-operated fund last month, News OK 9 found, a payment that was filed under “Legal Settlements.” Her attorneys were paid just over $16,000, a settlement that was marked under “Housekeeping and Cleaning Supplies.” A former state rep told the station that the checks would’ve have to have been signed by the House Speaker, although that’s unconfirmed:
“The House of Representatives had no right to pay that money out on behalf of an out of control member,” former Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said.
Reynolds called the allegations troubling but not surprising, adding that there have been several members over time caught in similar situations. Reynolds was reprimanded on the House floor during his time in office after interrupting a guest speaker of Kirby’s who attempted to lobby the House.
“Similar situations” certainly sounds embarrassing, doesn’t it? Kirby didn’t respond to the Oklahoman’s repeated requests for comment, the newspaper reports, and he’s not saying much as a whole bunch of people call for his resignation.