The Norman Transcript

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April 1, 2014

Rusty Sullivan stripped of county board chairmanship

NORMAN — Monday’s Cleveland County Board of Commissioners meeting turned into a tag-team match that saw District 3’s Rusty Sullivan stripped of his chairmanship and fellow Republican commissioners calling for his resignation or forced removal from office.

The action Monday follows Thursday’s multi-county grand jury report that accused — but did not indict — Sullivan of a misdemeanor charge of improperly accepting $19,900 in tree, shrub and fence damages from the county’s widening of Etowah Road in Noble, where he resides.

“This is a political thing,” Sullivan said from his second-floor office following the meeting. “This has always been about politics.”

Sullivan, 61, who has served nearly two terms, did not comment on the proceedings during the meeting. He said he plans to file for re-election April 9. He said he will not resign or repay the money that was for replacement of trees on his property. An estimated 85 parcel owners along Etowah Road were paid for damages and pieces of right of way.

In 2010, county officials contracted with a third party to acquire the property and another company to appraise the level of damages.

Former Cleveland County Assistant District Attorney Dave Batton contacted property owners on the $6.3 million road project, which is not yet completed.

At least two Republican candidates have been mentioned as challengers to Sullivan’s District 3 seat. They include Darryl Covey and state Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. Former state Sen. Cal Hobson said he plans to file for the post as a Democrat.

After the brief meeting, Sullivan declined to answer other questions about the grand jury’s report, due to the secrecy requirement placed on him.

No charges were filed or recommended by the attorney general’s office, which said there was probable cause that a misdemeanor violation occurred, but Sullivan’s action was reported more than three years after the events occurred, too late to warrant a criminal misdemeanor charge.

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