Claremore Daily Progress

Oologah/Talala

October 2, 2013

UPDATE: 7,711 signatures filed for Grand Jury probe

Judge Van Dyck seals signers names, verification process begins

CLAREMORE —

 

Sponsors of a citizens petition drive for a grand jury investigation of District Attorney Janice Steidley, three of her assistants and two county commissioners turned in 7,711 signatures Wednesday to Rogers County Court Clerk Kim Henry.
The signatures on 648 pages were presented a week before the deadline to submit the names of 4,487 registered voters in order to convene the grand jury.
Also Wednesday, Claremore Police Detective John Singer, who has a pending federal lawsuit against DA Steidley, filed a motion on behalf of the  petition sponsors to seal the names of the signers on the ground “various Rogers County citizens have expressed fear and voice concerns” they could be retaliated against because the targets of the petition are public officials. 
The motion claimed County Commissioner Mike Helm, one of the officials named in the petition, made statements on television threatening retaliation against anyone who signed it.
Grady County Judge Richard Van Dyck, who was assigned by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to preside over the petition process, promptly signed an order sealing the signatures.
The petition asks a grand jury to determine if DA Steidley should be removed from office for alleged corruption and misconduct. It also seeks an investigation into claims of malfeasance by Assistant District Attorneys David Iski, Bryce Lair and Timothy Wantland, and County Commissioners Helm and Kirt Thacker. 
DA Steidley has characterized the allegations against her as “baseless and pathetic.” She’s also said the petition drive is politically motivated. The other officials have also rejected the claims against them. 
Petition sponsors said they were encouraged by the citizen support for the grand jury investigation.
 “Once this petition was made available, the 7,000-plus  petition signatures sought us out,” said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, an organizer of the drive. “These people want better government in Rogers County.”
Henry, the county court clerk, said the petition drive has been a learning process, but that her office is prepared to expedite the checking of the signatures. 

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