Oklahoma state officials are calling on a Republican state senator to resign after he was charged with three felonies for offering money to a 17-year-old boy in exchange for sex.
Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City) has been charged with soliciting the prostitution of a minor, transportation for the purposes of prostitution, and prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church. Police say Shortey and the teen met through an online personal ad about a year ago and had been texting ever since.
According to The Washington Post, the teen’s father tipped police off about a planned liaison between the two on March 9, which was detailed in a graphic conversation about having sex and smoking marijuana on the teen’s Kindle tablet. The father told police the boy has previously solicited sex through Craigslist and has a history of drug abuse. Police then followed Shortey and the 17-year-old to a Super 8 motel in Moore, Okla., where they were found smoking marijuana.
In response, Gov. Mary Fallin, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, and Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, all Republicans, have called on Shortey to resign. Fallin said the accusations against Shortey “do not reflect the character and decorum that we expect of an elected official,” according to The Oklahoman.
On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate voted unanimously to sanction Shortey for “disorderly behavior.” Under the terms of the punishment, Shortey has been banned from his Capitol office, has had his name removed from legislation he sponsored, and will not be allowed to hold leadership positions for the foreseeable future.
“The Oklahoma Senate has full faith that the judicial system will play out appropriately and bring this matter to a lawful conclusion,” Schulz said of the upper chamber’s decision to sanction Shortey. “This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light.”
The Senate may yet choose to forcibly remove Shortey from office if he doesn’t resign. Expulsion would require the votes of two-thirds, or 32, of the state’s 48 state senators.
Shortey, a former supporter of President Donald Trump, turned himself in on Thursday to law enforcement officials. He was subsequently released from the Cleveland County Jail on a $100,000 bond. No court date has been set for a preliminary hearing.
Shortey declined to comment upon his release from prison, promising only that he would have a statement at a later time.