OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey submitted his resignation letter to Senate leadership Wednesday afternoon, less than a week after child prostitution charges were filed against him.
His attorney, Ed Blau, provided NewsChannel 4 with Shortey’s resignation letter:
Dear Governor Fallin,
I hereby resign effective immediately from the Senate of the State of Oklahoma.
It has been my honor to serve the constituents of the 44th Senate District since 2010. I appreciate the service the men and women of the Oklahoma Senate provide, and I recognize the need for the business of the Senate to proceed without distraction for the remainder of the legislative session.
Shortey also released a personal statement:
Earlier today, I submitted my resignation, effective immediately, to the President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, as well as to Governor Fallin. I thank the constituents of Senate District 44 for the opportunity they provided to serve. Because I take that responsibility seriously, I recognize that the charges against me are a distraction to their interests and the remaining legislative session, which should serve all Oklahomans. My resignation is evidence of my respect for public service and the duties of our elected officials. I ask for the privacy of my family – my wife and four daughters – as I defend myself of these charges.
NewsChannel 4 has reached out to Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus, who said:
“I have accepted Ralph Shortey’s resignation, which is effective immediately. To ensure justice is not impeded, the Oklahoma Senate will continue to cooperate with all authorities looking into this matter. My thoughts and prayers have been, and will continue to be with, all those involved in this tragic situation. With this resignation, the Oklahoma Senate now moves forward with the important business of the people of the great state of Oklahoma.”
Following his resignation, Oklahoma Senate Democrats released the following statement:
“We are aware that Ralph Shortey has resigned his seat in the Oklahoma Senate. We are glad he has submitted his resignation effective immediately and that he made this decision in a fairly prompt and straightforward manner. The people of Senate District 44 deserve a senator they can rely on and respect. They deserve to replace him with a senator who will be focused on the needs and concerns of southwest Oklahoma City as quickly as possible. Therefore, we are calling on the governor to promptly set a special election at the earliest possible date to fill Ralph Shortey’s now vacant seat. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected by this situation.”
Calls for Shortey’s resignation have echoed in the Capitol since Thursday when the Oklahoma City Republican senator was charged with engaging in child prostitution.
“Ralph Shortey should resign his seat in the Senate,” said Gov. Mary Fallin in a statement last week. “The charges against him do not reflect the character and decorum that we expect of an elected official. It is not acceptable. In the meantime, there’s a criminal justice system in place to review the allegations. We should respect the process and allow it to work as designed.”
The charges stem from a Moore Police Department investigation that began when police were called to the Super 8 motel at 1520 N. Service Rd. for a runaway teen shortly before 1 a.m. on March 9.
Court documents said a friend of the teen watched him get into an SUV near his home.
The friend then followed the vehicle to the hotel where the teen was seen going into a room with an unknown man.
According to a search warrant affidavit, the friend called the teen’s father, who then alerted police.
The man was later identified as Shortey.
Moore police found the 17-year-old boy – 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.
Court documents lay out lurid messages that were sent between the teen and Shortey.
WARNING: The court documents in the link below contain GRAPHIC, DISTURBING and ADULT language. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
He faces three felony counts of engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting a minor for prostitution or lewdness.
“He offered him money for sexual contact, he then picked up that minor and took him to a hotel for that purpose,” said Susan Caswell, Cleveland County first assistant district attorney, at the time.
Shortey, 35, was booked into jail and released on $100,000 bond Thursday.
The next day, FBI agents were seen searching the senator’s southwest Oklahoma City home and carrying out boxes.
However, it is not known what those boxes contained.
Officials said the search warrant is currently sealed.
The U.S. Secret Service is also assisting Moore police in their investigation.
Shortey’s attorney tells NewsChannel 4 his client will likely be arraigned later this week.
One day before charges were filed last week, the Senate voted to suspend Shortey from all Senate activities, stripping his name from all authored legislation.
Shortey has served long enough in the legislature that he can collect is $9,000 a year pension when he retires, even if he’s convicted.
State law strips elected officials of their pension if convicted of felonies like bribery, corruption or perjury – but it does not include prostitution with a minor.
If that’s 25 years of retirement, for example, the state of Oklahoma will pay Shortey nearly $230,000.
Shortey has served in the Oklahoma Senate since his election in 2010, where he has been known to author controversial legislation.
Shortey was re-elected in 2014 after defeating his democratic challenger, Michael Brooks-Jimenez, a criminal defense and immigration attorney.
Brooks-Jimenez announced Tuesday he is throwing his hat in the ring for when a special election is called to fill the 44th District’s senate seat.
“I think you have to convince the voters, the people of southwest Oklahoma City, that you’ve got integrity, and you’re committed to representing their interests at the capitol, instead of being distracted by other things,” Brooks-Jimenez said. “I’ve lived in this district my whole life, and I’ve been wanting strong leadership for a long time and I’m tired of waiting.”
The governor’s office will meet with election officials to determine when a special election can be held to fill the seat.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.