Arthrell goes creeping

[Updated 4/2] Defeated Tulsa Democrat Dan Arthrell was caught “snooping” in Representative Katie Henke’s capital office – an office he repeatedly tried to win over three recent elections.  Henke, a Republican, won in the final battle by over 900 votes.

According to Mike McCarville, Oklahoma political commentator and publisher of the The McCarville Report (TMR), “Wednesday morning, Henke staffers and others noticed Arthrell, a lobbyist, in her office area.  He soon disappeared from view and then, the sources say, Rep. Mark McBride spotted Arthrell in Henke’s office taking photographs with his cell phone.

Arthrell exited the office and when confronted [first] denied taking photographs.

“Meanwhile, a Henke staffer called the House sergeant at arms as the conversation between McBride, the staff members and Arthrell grew more heated in the hallway,” McCarville wrote.

“McBride left and soon returned with an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper assigned to the Capitol, Captain Pete Norwood.  When last seen, TMR was told, Arthrell was being questioned by Norwood,” McCarville concluded, click here for the report on TMR.

The Tulsa World later set the scene describing the battle for Tulsa’s House District 71 seat as “an epic, nasty series of campaign battles” after calling Arthrell’s latest uninvited trespassing a “minor drama.”

Arthrell, told the Tulsa World, he took the photo on “a whim to show my wife” and that he “went down a corridor past Henke’s office to see Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, but Walker was not in. On his way out, Arthrell said he stopped and took the picture adding, it was a stupid thing to do.

“Arthrell was then confronted by Henke’s legislative assistant, Ben Keel, and Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore. McBride said Arthrell first denied taking the photo, then showed it to McBride, Keel and Walker, who had arrived on the scene, and then deleted it,” according to the Tulsa World Political Writer Randy Krehbiel.  Click here for the posting on The Tulsa World.

Minor drama or criminal trespass depends on perspective, but Arthell clearly violated any trust elected representatives may have held for him.  Apparently, Arthell believes himself empowered to enter any office door he can open.

Rep. Katie Henke was on the floor of the House at the time and later told Tulsa Today, “I’m curious of his motives.  What did he hope to discover?  What made him think he had a right to violate anyone’s private office space and photograph for any purpose?

“I have correspondence from my constituents that is confidential and not intended for other eyes.  Arthell walked past my legislative assistant with his head down as if to hide his identity then down a hall, turned around and, on the way back towards the door, slipped into my office.  This trespass was deliberate,” Henke said.

Repeatedly identified by media as an experienced lobbyist, there is no current listing with the Ethics Commission of a Dan Arthrell.  Click here for that official report revised 3/29/2013.

There is a LinkedIn profile of Arthrell that, as of this writing, still promotes “Candidate for Oklahoma House District 71” with a note that he works for the “Community Service Council” [of Greater Tulsa].  Multiple legislative sources tell Tulsa Today, Arthrell is currently promoting passage (even pulling representatives from Session on occasion) to discuss an anti-bullying bill which is somewhat
ironic given his behavior in this incident.

Arthrell was once registered as a lobbyist, but Jan Figart, Associate Director, Community Service Council said, “Dan is not a lobbyist on behalf of the Community Service Council.  Dan works in public policy on behalf of a number of initiatives and collaborations staffed and supported by the Council.   You referenced the Anti-Bullying legislation.  As I shared with you, Dan has provided information to a number of legislators regarding bullying and the impact to children.  He does meet with legislators in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.”  She also made clear that the Community Service Council did not send Arthrell to the capitol to “do that.

[Update 4/2] Tulsa Today spoke with  Lee Slater, Executive Director Ethics Commission, today and he could not confirm or deny that a complaint has been filed or that an investigation is underway of Dan Arthrell.  Slater did note that it is also a misdemeanor criminal offense to engage as a lobbyist without registration in Oklahoma.  With the trespass of Rep. Henke’s office drawing attention to Arthrell’s activities, it is too early to know what official determinations or actions may follow.

Nevertheless, from the definition provided and Arthrell’s activity it appears that he is operating as a lobbyist.  Arthrell is paid by the same organization doing the same job, generally, he was once registered to do.

In Tulsa Today coverage February 2012, Arthrell’s campaign promoted him as “the Director of Public Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Community Service Council of Tulsa.”  At the time he emphasized experience as a lobbyist.  Click here for that archive.

The Council site lists Arthrell as “Public Policy, MHSC.”  Click here for the complete staff directory.

MHSC is identified as Tulsa’s Metropolitan Human Services Commission which: 1.) coordinates funding, planning and policy decisions affecting human services in Tulsa County, 2.) provides overall leadership in guiding the use of its partners’ resources in addressing major community issues and concerns, and 3.) promotes public policy action needed for prevention and effective service delivery.

The purpose of the organization is outlined to, “promote the support of human service programs that are effectively dealing with specific community problems and needs. MHSC’s roles include developing information to guide policy and resource decisions, advocating at the state legislature, researching most successful approaches to solve problems, and maintaining formal communications with major state leaders on MHSC priorities and engaging their support.”

The Community Service Council is the agent for the MHSC and provides staff support.  The following organizations are listed as partners in the program: City of Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Tulsa Public Schools, Union Public Schools, Tulsa Area United Way, Tulsa Community College, Tulsa Health Department, and Tulsa Technology Center; and the Tulsa Metro Chamber is an ad hoc member. From this partner list, it appears some local tax dollars may flow to support Arthrell’s efforts.  Click here for more on MHSC.

If the Tulsa World, which endorsed Dan Arthrell in his failed campaigns, thinks this is a “minor drama” then would they mind if Tulsa Today reporters photographed material on their reporter’s, editor’s, or publisher’s desk without permission?  Could we just open the door and walk in?