(Re-)Meet Randy Terrill’s Accuser
1:00 PM EDT on June 23, 2010
When news broke that District Attorney David Prater was bringing corruption charges against three Oklahoma legislators, including one of our favorites, it seemed like perfect fodder this website. You're probably thinking, "Why the crickets, then?" Good question.
Most of the case was straight forward. State representative Mike Christian (a Republic) announced he would be making a run at the state senate seat that Debbe Leftwich (a Democrat) was vacating. Prater's case insisted that Leftwich vacated the seat for the benefit of Christian. In return for making the seat even easier for the Republican Party to take (by eliminating the incumbency barrier), she was given a high paying job in the Medical Examiner's office. Considering that the Medical Examiner's office seems to be the hot bed of corruption in the state, this all made sense.
That left the pressing issue of why the representative voted "Most Likely to Wear a Pointed Hood" was rolled into the charges. Initially, I was working on two theories. 1) Prater, a Democrat, did not wanted to tip the scales for which party was smeared with stink; or 2) Randy Terrill is just such an a-hole that Prater wanted to make him squirm.
As it turns out, neither theory had any merit. According to the state's star witness, Terrill was the rainmaker. The witness: former KOCO anchor and KWTV reporter Cherokee Ballard.
First of all, how awesome is it that the whistleblower in the case that will likely end the career of the legislature's most blatant racist is semi-famous? Cherokee Ballard received an award as Oklahoma's 2008 "Woman of the Year" after she was unceremoniously dismissed from her journalism job. Before that, she was an inspiration for beating lymphoma while continuing to do the news daily. Now, she's the executive administrator, spokeswoman and legislative liaison for the Medical Examiner's Office.
It was in that role that she was privy to Representative Terrill making the deal. Here is her testimony:
Terrill turned to Ballard, who is an administrator and spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's office. Terrill asked, "What's your salary?" She replied, "70," short for $70,000.
Terrill responded, "Well, she'll be making more than you."
Terrill then turned to Tom Jordan, the chief administrative officer of the Medical Examiner's office. He asked Jordan how much Jordan was making.
Jordan responded, "90."
Terrill then said, "Well, it will be somewhere in between, like 80."
That's pretty damning implication for Terrill. But why would Ballard rat him out? I'm working on three theories. The first is pretty straightforward: Terrill gave Leftwich more than her, and Leftwich was only going to have one title compared to Ballard's three. The second, doing the right thing, is pretty simple, as well.
My favorite, though, is the third theory. In that one, Ballard was inspired by Terrill's nativist crusade to keep Mexicans from infringing on Oklahoma's sovereign land. As a member of the Cherokee tribe, Ballard extended that to white men like Terrill.