By Tim Talley
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — A former Oklahoma lawmaker charged with felony bribery told his 12-member jury Tuesday that he never offered a legislative colleague a job in exchange for her promise not to seek re-election.
“I don’t have the authority to offer anyone a state job,” former Republican Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore said as he testified in his own defense in Oklahoma County District Court.
Prosecutors allege that Terrill offered to set up former Democratic state Sen. Debbe Leftwich with an $80,000-a-year job at the medical examiner’s office if she would agree to not seek re-election in 2010 so that a Republican, current Rep. Mike Christian of Oklahoma City, could run for her open seat.
But Terrill said he did not offer Leftwich a job and that she never asked him for one.
“Never,” the former legislator replied when defense attorney Chris Eulberg asked Terrill if he had ever offered anything to Leftwich. Terrill has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors filed bribery charges against Terrill, 44, and Leftwich, 62, whose trial is scheduled for Dec. 9. She has also pleaded not guilty.
Christian was never charged, never sought Leftwich’s seat and was re-elected to the House.
Prosecutors allege Terrill wrote a bill that would create the job of “transition coordinator” at the medical examiner’s office for Leftwich and used a separate bill to divert $90,000 to the office from a fund at the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. Former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry vetoed both measures after the bribery allegations surfaced.
During his testimony, Terrill denied telling officials at the medical examiner’s office to hire Leftwich for the job. He said the measure creating the new position was approved after it received majority votes in both the state House and the Senate.
“I cannot do anything by myself,” he said. “I’m a bill manager and my job is to move the bill through the process.”
Defense attorneys have said Terrill did not have the authority to promise Leftwich a job, and that Leftwich wasn’t technically a candidate for re-election because she never filed the required paperwork with the state Election Board. Terrill left the Legislature last year.
Defense attorneys have also said the actions of Terrill and Leftwich were constitutionally protected because they were acting in their official capacity as legislators.
Defense attorneys are scheduled to make their closing arguments in the case Tuesday afternoon, and then Terrill’s jury is expected to return a verdict in the case.
Terrill faces up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted.