Rep. Pittman Sues Opponent, Election Board Amid State House District 99 Race

The race for State House District 99 has taken an interesting turn after sitting Representative Ajay Pittman sued her opponent, Brittane Grant. Rep. Pittman is alleging that Grant is not fit for office because of a 2016 felony.

Wednesday, June 12th 2024, 5:46 pm

By: News 9, Haley Weger


-

The race for State House District 99 has taken an interesting turn after sitting Representative Ajay Pittman (D- HD 99) sued her opponent, Brittane Grant. 

Rep. Pittman is alleging that Grant is not fit for office because of a 2016 felony. Pittman is suing Grant, the State Election Board, and Paul Ziriax, in his official capacity as Chief Administrative Officer of the Election Board. 

A lawsuit filed by Ajay's campaign on June 6, cites a portion of the state constitution that says, "No person shall serve as a member of the Legislature who is, at the time of such service, an officer of the United States or State government, or is receiving compensation as such; nor shall any person be eligible to election to the Legislature, who has been adjudged guilty of a felony." 

They also cite Oklahoma Statutes, Title 26, Section 5-105a, which says: "A person who has been convicted... a felony under the laws of this state or has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to such crime shall not be eligible to be a candidate." 

We spoke with OKC Attorney Collin Walke, about the statute and case.

“It is a really interesting case,” said Walke. “Representative Pittman has brought a lawsuit against her challenger in this race and has alleged that she pleaded guilty to a felony charge.”

The lawsuit states: that in 2016, “Grant entered a guilty plea to the felony charges of false representation in obtaining assistance and false representation in obtaining food stamps.” 

It goes on to cite state statute, saying “a person who has entered a plea of guilty” is “not eligible to be a candidate” “for fifteen years.” 

DOC RECORD

Grant’s charges no longer show up on the Oklahoma State Court Records website, but her charges can still be found on the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website.

Walke explains that Grant's record in the case was likely expunged.

“Most of the time once an individual receives this type of expungement, they're told they don't have to mark ‘yes’ on a job application if they have been convicted of a felony because the statute says it will be determined without a judgment of guilt,” explained Walke.

“Under the law, the challenger has an uphill battle to climb in this situation because they're going to have to prove that the law permits her to run in spite of a conviction that can be used at a subsequent date,” said Walke.

Walke explained the intricate and somewhat contradicting state statute wrapped up in this suit.

“So on one hand you have the statute that it is not a plea of guilty after it's all discharged and on the other hand you have a statute saying it can be used for an after-the-fact charge in order to enhance the current charges,” said Walke.

Either way the court rules, the decision will likely set a precedent.

“It will answer the question of who can serve after they've been convicted of a felony and once that felony has been expunged,” said Walke. “Ultimately I would imagine that this case is going to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma one way or another to get that answer, the district court may rule one way or the other, but the offended party is likely to appeal.”

The odds of a court decision before next week’s primary election are slim because each side has 20 days from the filing day to provide a response. From there, Walke says there will likely be appeals; it could be months before a decision is made.

“The Supreme Court might ultimately have the say on this and we'll have a new law that tells us the answer,” said Walke.

We reached out to both Pittman and Grant and did not hear back.

logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News on 6 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

June 12th, 2024

July 21st, 2024

July 21st, 2024

July 21st, 2024

Top Headlines

July 21st, 2024

July 21st, 2024

July 21st, 2024

July 21st, 2024