Truth Test: Sullivan's arrest record in ads

Wednesday, October 20th 2004, 6:29 pm
By: News On 6

The candidates in the First District Congressional Race disagree on just how many times one of them has been arrested.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has this Truth Test update.

The story of John Sullivan's past has come up before, but now both sides are using it as an issue. It started with an ad for Doug Dodd. Announcer: "Sullivan arrested 4 times"
Sullivan's campaign responded with this: Announcer: "Dodd talks about arrests. Well there was really only one."

A check of Sullivan's background shows 4 encounters with police - but they weren't all arrests. The first was in May, 1983, at 6200 E 41st Street. The charge was simple assault and battery. The records don’t say for sure if Sullivan was arrested and since it was a misdemeanor he could have only gotten a ticket.

But two years ago, Sullivan told the Tulsa World, he was arrested and taken to the police station.

The second encounter was June 11th 1983, where Sullivan got a ticket for loitering at 11th and Darlington. The third encounter was clearly an arrest - in May 1985 at 5400 S Peoria for public intoxication and disturbing the peace. That's the arrest mentioned in Sullivan's rebuttal ad. Announcer: "Well there was really only one, for drinking beer in Brookside when he was 20 years old. The policeman made him pour his beer out."
The officer who arrested Sullivan that day was Scott Walton - now the Crimestoppers Coordinator - but he says he doesn't remember what happened.

Sullivan's fourth encounter with police was clearly another arrest. It happened on February 26, 1992, at 1600 E 4th Place, where Sullivan was picked up for an outstanding traffic ticket. It's described on a jail booking sheet this way: "Vehicle was stopped for an expired tag. Subject was a passenger. A records check revealed the outstanding warrant. Subject advised, arrested, transported and booked."

Despite that, the Sullivan campaign sticks by its new ad. His Chief of Staff says "He hasn't been arrested four times. You can call an arrest an arrest or you can call it getting a ticket." The legalese of the police records calls all of them arrests.

Sullivan's campaign says there was only one - but it's clear from police records there were at least two - not including the one he talked about in the paper.