Claremore Daily Progress

Our View

November 15, 2012

Caught and Warned: Will Thacker and Helm continue their misdeeds?

CLAREMORE — The first wave of legal judgment has arrived in the misdeeds of Rogers County Commissioners Kirt Thacker and Mike Helm.

First Assistant District Attorney Ben Loring of the 13th Judicial District, who was appointed by Attorney General Scott Pruitt, released his first findings of his investigation.
He sternly warns Thacker and Helm about bid splitting county contracts.
He cites four purchase orders regarding road striping projects — Purchase Order #003951 ($9,965.00, dated Nov. 20, 2009) and Purchase Order #004318 ($9,993.00, dated Dec. 7, 2009); Purchase Order #003691 ($9,927.00 dated Nov. 9, 2009) and Purchase Order #4322 ($9,600, dated Dec. 7, 2009). These were the only purchase orders the OSBI and Loring dealt with due to the statute of limitations.
“Please be advised that after reviewing the OSBI investigation into this matter, it is my opinion that each of you violated the intent of what is commonly called the “bid splitting” law (19 O. S. § 1501(A)(3)(a)) and there is even some evidence that would indicate that each of you did so with specific and knowing intent,” writes Loring.
However, Loring blames that statute for not filing charges against Thacker and Helm.
They did break the law, but there is nothing he can do about it. In other words, he cannot guarantee a conviction.
“However, it is also my opinion that the statute that prohibits this type of action is poorly written,  and it would be difficult to successfully prosecute either of you under the fact situation as I understand it. Consequently, we are not filing any charges at this time on these four Purchase Orders,” writes Loring.
He acknowledges both Thacker and Helm have received training about when public bidding is required, but despite that training they choose to ignor state law. Loring say they should consult their District Attorney’s office.
“We agree with the SA&I (State Auditor and Inspector) interpretation and you are hereby put on notice that if you should have a similar situation present itself again in the future, you should consult with your District Attorney before taking actions like you did in this case,” Loring writes.

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