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AM NewsBrief: July 18, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, July 18, 2023.

Executive Director Steps Down

The Executive Director of Oklahoma’s political campaign watchdog agency is stepping down.

Director Ashley Kemp has been in her position for 7 years. She writes in a letter she is resigning from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission due to a lack of funding for the agency. She says she’ll leave the agency by the end of the year.

The commission enforces the ethical rules for elected state officials, officers and employees. It also oversees state campaigns and lobbyist spending. Their investigations can lead to lawsuits or even criminal cases against candidates who misuse campaign funds.

In January, Kemp told The Oklahoman newspaper there is enough evidence to prosecute multiple violations of state campaign finance laws - but that lawmakers have not provided the money to go through with prosecutions. This fiscal year the agency was appropriated nearly $688,000.

The state agency’s appointed commissioners will choose her successor.

Southwestern Oklahoma Faces Water Issues

Southwestern Oklahoma communities face water problems as they head into a week of high temperatures.

The Foss Reservoir Master Conservancy District supplies more than 17,000 people with treated water from Foss Reservoir. Its water plant shut down on Thursday for emergency repairs, according to the City of Hobart, which relies on Foss as its only water source.

The city asked residents to conserve the water left in their towers and warned repairs could take days.

Just southwest of Foss, the Quartz Mountain Water Plant Board has declared a separate water emergency for Lone Wolf, Granite, Quartz Mountain State Park and the Oklahoma State Reformatory.

Despite recent rain, the wells that supply those systems are only providing half the plant’s capacity. That’s according to the Towns of Granite and Lone Wolf, which are implementing odd/even outdoor watering days and asking residents to conserve as much as possible.

El Reno Earthquakes

El Reno experienced several low-magnitude earthquakes earlier this month caused by fracking at oil and gas sites.

Some residents of El Reno woke up in the middle of the night to 2.1, 1.3, and 1.5 magnitude earthquakes shaking their homes.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission told KFOR it was first alerted to these earthquakes at well sites near the El Reno Airport on Friday, July 7th.

The earthquakes were eventually traced to Houston-based gas company Paloma. OCC ordered the company to stagger well completion stages and to use less fluid volume and pressure in each stage.

OCC’s recommendations are meant to decrease the number of felt earthquakes, but not all seismic activity.

Murder Conviction Tossed

An Oklahoma City man's murder conviction has been thrown out by the state's court of criminal appeals... after it was revealed the judge who oversaw the case was having a sexual relationship with a prosecutor.

Robert Hashagen was convicted for the murder of his neighbor in 2021. But appeals judges say that conviction shouldn't stand because of Judge Timothy Henderson's sexual relationship with a prosecutor.

Henderson resigned in 2021 following accusations of sexual misconduct by three female attorneys.

The 3-2 decision from the appeals court says the undisclosed relationship "violated Hashagen's due process rights."

The Oklahoman newspaper reports the prosecutor has described her relationship with the judge as sexual abuse, and she has since left the Oklahoma County district attorney's office.

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