Taking payoffs, breaking the law and pushing through unconstitutional legislation as special favors to corporate interests has long been par for the course in politics. But now Representative Kevin Calvey (R – Oklahoma City) wants to make it official and make it illegal to arrest any state officials accused of a public offense.
Representative Calvey has introduced House Bill 2206, which would prohibit Oklahoma’s district attorneys from prosecuting state officials, granting that power exclusively to the state’s Attorney General. This would exempt lawmakers from prosecution of nearly any crimes that are normally handled at the local level.
The bill proposes the following:
“The jurisdiction of a prosecution against a principal in the commission of a public offense, when such principal is a state elected official, state legislator, district court judicial officer, appellate judicial officer or an appointee of a state board or state commission at the time of the commission of the offense, is within the sole and exclusive prosecutorial authority of the Attorney General of Oklahoma. Such an action must be filed in the county of residence of the state officer.”
“It’s a big deal to me. I’m upset and concerned,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater explained. “This bill creates a different class of citizens that would be protected from the normal prosecution process.”
“I am suspicious … that is what this is really about,” Prater added.
Rep. Calvey, said that he filed the bill because there is “malicious prosecution” of politicians. He cited the prosecution in Texas of former Gov. Rick Perry. But Calvey is in Oklahoma, and Perry is no longer in office, though he is fighting an abuse-of-power indictment that he says is politically motivated.
While Calvey says he doesn’t think anything “so outrageous” would happen in Oklahoma, he adds “who knows who will get elected to those offices in the future? I do think it’s just better to prevent that kind of thing from ever arising… The point is to not allow a locally elected official to effectively have undue influence over statewide policy.”
The bill never goes into specifics on what would be considered a public offense, thus providing immunity to lawmakers for nearly any criminal activity at the local level. Since Calvey himself acknowledges that the point would be to avoid legislators or politicians from being prosecuted for abuse-of-power, this bill proposes to set forth a very dangerous precedence that could lead to even less accountability for politicians.