Impeachment On The Mind: Lawsuits Pile Up Against Ryan Walters

Multiple lawsuits were filed against the state superintendent and his advisor for wrongful termination and violation of free speech. 

Wednesday, May 31st 2023, 6:18 pm


Multiple lawsuits were filed against the state superintendent and his advisor for wrongful termination and violation of free speech. 

“It's obvious that at some point something was going to happen. I saw this coming when I saw the emails coming,” said Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore).

After those lawsuits were filed, some parents, teachers and lawmakers are calling for Walters to be terminated as state superintendent. Now we're looking at what the impeachment process looks like here in the state.

“Here we have the department of education saying we don't want people to know what we're doing or why we’re doing it, we want a gag order, we want complete silence- well that is so far against what the department is supposed to stand for,” said attorney Mark Hammons.

Hammons is representing both former Oklahoma State Department of Education employees in wrongful termination lawsuits. Both employees were allegedly fired from the department after leaking information to the press, which was caught during an email trap from Walters and Langston, attempting to pick whistleblowers out of the department.

“Impeachment is in the eyes of the body,” said Rep. Andy Fugate (D-OKC). “So ultimately it would be 51 members of the House that would make the decision whether or not they would be grounds for impeachment.” 

The state statute reads that elective state officers are subject to impeachment for: “willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude committed while in office.”

“So just like with the federal government, impeachment in Oklahoma begins with the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Fugate. “It does require us to be in session, the governor can bring us into session to do that, or the legislature itself can call a special session for that purpose.”

The House would only need a simple majority vote in their chamber, or at least 50 percent of the votes.

“If there's only 80 members who show up, then it would take 40 + 1,” said Rep. Fugate.

If the House received the simple majority vote in their chamber, they would take the case to the Senate.

“The Chief Justice of the state of Oklahoma would serve as the presiding judge, and members of the House would bring the articles of impeachment and serve as prosecution,” said Rep. Fugate.

Minority floor leader Andy Fugate said the email trap, lawsuits, and other problems at OSDE are grounds for impeachment in his eyes.

On the other hand, many republicans say they don’t think Walters is at the point of impeachment.

“If those folks are reaching out to the legislature, for instance, or if they were serving in a whistleblower capacity and they were prevented from doing that, I would think those would certainly pass the sniff test for impeachment,” said Rep. Fugate.

While some democrats think they have enough to impeach Walters, many republicans say Walters isn’t to the level of impeachment at this point.

“I don't think it's a good fit for the state to impeach anybody if we can keep from it. Yeah, some things have been done wrong and there are some problems, but I don't think we're at that point yet,” said Rep. Mark McBride.

Representative McBride says he hopes that Walters can turn things around.

“I want the best for him. I would like to see him change his ways and maybe we could move forward,” said Rep. McBride.

We reached out to Walters' communication staff multiple times for an interview and didn’t get a response.


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