A Republican candidate in the Oklahoma County prosecutors’ race said Friday that he would not sue the co-founders of Epic Charter Schools himself if elected.
Kevin Calvey said he would recuse himself because he was being paid for legal work.
Co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney were charged Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court with racketeering, embezzlement and other crimes. They deny wrongdoing.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation revealed in an affidavit filed in the case that the co-founders’ management company had already paid Calvey’s law firm $10,000.
Another GOP candidate, Gayland Gieger, called Calvey “a paid contractor for an alleged criminal enterprise.”
Calvey said he could not discuss the sole reason for the payment two or three years ago due to solicitor-client privilege.
“However, I can assure you that this has nothing to do with the criminal charges they are currently facing,” he said. “When I’m a district attorney, I will of course recuse myself from the case and turn it over to the attorney general’s office.”
Oklahoma County Commissioner Calvey is one of four Republicans seeking to take over when District Attorney David Prater retires in January. Two Democrats are in the race. The primary election is Tuesday.
Gieger, an assistant Oklahoma County prosecutor, said Calvey, a former state representative, “has a habit of getting rich through questionable means.”
He also described Calvey as a strong supporter of Epic charter schools and questioned whether the payment was for lobbying work. Calvey was registered as a lobbyist for two weeks in 2019.
“The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has flagged this payment as one of several questionable and potentially criminal expenses,” Gieger said.
A forensic services firm hired by OBSI identified the payments to Kevin J. Calvey PC and 21 other vendors as high risk, according to the affidavit. Payments totaled $13,902,203.
The forensic society assigned the high-risk classification to vendors it could not verify, vendors whose operations were unclear, and vendors who provided services that are not relevant to running a educational institution.
It also ranked sellers whose payments seemed excessive.
Calvey called Gieger’s criticism of him a baseless attack from an opponent “far behind in the polls.”