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Attorney General, OSBI conclude McCurtain County sheriff investigation

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 30, 2023) - A state probe of embattled McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy has found no evidence of criminal acts or other conduct that would be statutory grounds for ouster proceedings, Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced today. 

The investigation had been requested by Gov. Stitt after a tape recording surfaced in April of racist comments made by then-District 2 McCurtain County Commissioner Mark Jennings, who has since resigned. 

The investigation, which the Office of Attorney General conducted with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, concluded yesterday. Drummond reported his conclusion based on the findings in a letter to the Governor. (https://www.oag.ok.gov/sites/g/files/gmc766/f/documents/2023/gov._stitt-...)

“While I understand this outcome may be frustrating to you after calling for the Sheriff’s resignation and removal, it is the only appropriate conclusion under the law,” wrote Drummond. 

“There are countless examples of incidents from across the country where public officials make inflammatory comments that spark severe condemnation. Oftentimes the offending official resigns in disgrace. Sometimes the outrage fades and the matter is forgotten. Regardless, there is no provision of law in Oklahoma to throw elected officials out of office merely for saying something offensive.”

With Clardy refusing to resign, Drummond said the fate of that office will be determined by the voters of McCurtain County. 

“These last several months have been extremely difficult for the residents of McCurtain County,” said the Attorney General. “Many are understandably frustrated and angry. There is, however, power at the ballot box. Voters have the ultimate say in who represents them at all levels of government.”

Drummond’s letter to Gov. Stitt makes this point as well, encouraging the Governor to leverage his political clout for a change in leadership. 

“To the extent you remain committed to seeing Sheriff Clardy removed from office, I suggest you appeal to the men and women responsible for electing him,” wrote Drummond. 

“You have demonstrated a formidable ability to endorse candidates who go on to win their elections. If you are resolved to see a new person serving in that office, then I encourage you to identify and endorse a candidate in the upcoming election. The voters of McCurtain County will have the final say over who will serve them as Sheriff.”