Sen. Shortey child prostitution charges raising questions on past public comments

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State Sen. Ralph Shortey was a visible face since his election in 2010, becoming known for authoring some controversial legislation.

You may remember him authoring SB 1418 in the 2012 legislative session which prohibited “the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses," that never passed out of committee.

Sen. Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, was charged in Cleveland County, Okla., Thursday with several counts of child prostitution.

The charges stem from a Moore Police Department investigation that started out as a welfare check for a teen seen going into a hotel room with an unknown man in the early morning hours of March 9.

The man was later identified as Shortey.

Moore Police found the teen – who has a history of soliciting for sex on Craigslist, according to his parents – and Shortey in the hotel room with evidence of condoms and a strong smell of marijuana.

Based on the police affidavit and prosecutors, Shortey sought to exchange money for sex with the teen.

A little more than 24 hours after police found Shortey in the hotel room with the teen, he was on Fox Business to talk about his legislation that would have exempted property owners from civil prosecution if they destroyed drones not regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to online senate records, Shortey authored more than 260 bills since his election.

But it is the recent charges of child prostitution filed against him that are raising some eyebrows based on his previous public stances on certain legislation.

"I've got four daughters; my oldest is 14. She'll be in college in a few years and she will be packing – if allowed on campus – but I want my daughters to be safe,” Shortey said during a heated town hall meeting last month as he sought comment for a bill that would have changed drug laws (State Question 780 and 781) that were approved by Oklahoma voters last November.

Those laws made certain drug possession and low-level property crimes misdemeanors instead felonies.

"I don't believe that you should ever – as a representative of the people – hide out or not talk to the media," he said at the start of the town hall.

Shortey turned himself in to Cleveland County authorities Thursday afternoon after charges were filed and an arrest warrant issued.

“I have no comment at this time, but I will,” Shortey said as he exited an SUV and walked into the jail to be booked on the charges.

He later ducked out a back door after bailing out.

NewsChannel 4 went to his house on the city’s southwest side Friday afternoon, but no one answered the door.

Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma, Oklahoma County Republicans and Senate Democrats are calling for Shortey’s resignation, but he is still collecting his $38,000 salary.

But he did make this promise to voters last month at the town hall when talking about State Question 780: "I will make you this promise, because I have no intention in repealing State Question 780. If my bill comes out as a repeal of 780, then I will resign from office. I make you that promise.”

The senate approved a resolution Wednesday suspending him from all committees and stripping his name from all legislation.