By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa City Council asked the city prosecutor Thursday to review the report concerning the investigation into Mayor Bartlett's Chief of Staff and make his own conclusion.
The council finished their third executive session Thursday afternoon.
Councilor Rick Westcott said the report implicates both Terry Simonson and Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
"We're just going to say that we believe there's sufficient evidence here that we would like him to review the report and make his own determination if charges should be filed and against whom," said Rick Westcott, Tulsa Council Chair.
The report confirms the suspicions of some city councilors that the Mayor and his Chief of Staff should have known the rules about grant money that could have prevented police layoffs. There's evidence they were briefed on it several times.
At the same time - even though what they were telling the council was wrong - there's no smoking gun that shows they knew it was all wrong and intended to mislead the council.
"In my mind, when I think back about attending the meetings and listening on the radio, listening to the TV interviews, everything that I thought was going on, in my opinion, the report shows, was going on," Councilor Bill Christiansen said.
The council could possibly recommend misdemeanor charges against Simonson for lying to the council. If charges were ultimately filed - and proven - the maximum fine is $100 and/or ten days in jail and it's a misdemeanor crime.
"I'm not here to say that anybody lied about anything," Councilor GT Bynum said. "But I do think our investigator, based on his recommendations and the information he gave us, has presented enough information that I believe legal authorities ought to look into."
Both Mayor Bartlett and Terry Simonson did not get advance copies of the report. The Mayor had no comment on it when The News On 6 asked him about it Thursday night.
"Ultimately I think this comes down to a single question, can the citizens of Tulsa trust their government and trust their elected officials? And the Mayor and his Chief of Staff makes statements to the city council that's the same thing as making statements to the citizens who elected them," Westcott said. "We all, members of the council and the administration, we have to adhere to that standard. We have to make sure that any information we give to the public is the truth. They may disagree with us, they may have different opinions, but we have to be sure to give them the truth. And to me, that's what this is all comes down to."
Both Simonson and Bartlett are accused of violating Section 310 of the Tulsa City Charter.
SECTION 310. FALSE STATEMENTS TO THE CITY COUNCIL
It shall be an offense for any person, in any manner to knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal or cover-up by any trick, scheme or device a material fact, make any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation, or make or use any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry to the City Council during a Council meeting or Committee meeting. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offense and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($100.00), excluding costs and assessments, or by imprisonment in the City Jail for a period of not more than ten (10) days or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Simonson says he didn't lie to councilors – but might have misinformed them through an honest mistake. He told The News On 6 he believes the council is focusing on a single appearance before them in February when he was asked to reconstruct the administration's actions surrounding the layoff of Tulsa Police officers and subsequent use of a federal grant to hire some of them back.
"They were asking 'tell us how this unfolded' and I told them to the best of my knowledge this is what we did and why we did it" said Simonson. "And I don't think when you're doing that, even if you don't get it all right, that doesn't mean you're a liar, that means this is how I remember it happening and who said what and who did what."
Simonson noted that all council meetings are recorded and said, "No one has ever pointed to me on camera or on tape and said ‘right there, you see where you said that, I think that sentence right there is a lie.' So I still don't know, never did know exactly, what you think I said that I knowingly and willingly mislead you. I went back and I've looked at the TGOV tapes and I don't see anything like that."
Simonson said he met with the council's private investigator, and believes he was treated fairly in the interviews. Mayor Bartlett has expressed continued confidence in Simonson and said Wednesday he doesn't believe the council will find anything to pursue.
Simonson doesn't either. "At the end of the day, I was just giving them my opinion and I was giving them my recollection. I wasn't asking them to rely upon anything, or take action, or vote or make any decision, I was just trying to go back and reconstruct what happened."