By Andy Rieger
The Moore American
MOORE — Embattled Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan announced recently that he will not seek re-election to the District 3 post he has held for the past eight years.
“I apologize for the distraction this situation has caused. I announce that I will not be running for re-election in order to allow the County to move forward,” Sullivan said. “I wish nothing but the best for this great county and for my successor as County Commissioner.”
Sullivan, 61, of Noble, made the announcement in a statement to The American last week. Earlier last week, he said he planned to file for a third term on April 9. He was first elected in 2006, defeating longtime Commissioner Leroy Krohmer.
He was the subject of a recent Oklahoma multi-county grand jury investigation into his acceptance of $19,900 in tree, shrub and fence damages from the county’s widening of Etowah Road in Noble where he resides.
The grand jury, in a report issued this past week, accused — but did not indict — Sullivan of a misdemeanor charge of improperly accepting the $19,900 damage payment. Sullivan and at least one other county commissioner appeared before the panel in Oklahoma City.
“I have been very grateful for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Cleveland County. Recent events have caused friends and neighbors to ask if I will be running for reelection,” he said. “Although I disagree with the characterizations of my actions which have been put forward by my political opponents, it is time to move on.”
Last week, fellow Republican county commissioners Darry Stacy and Rod Cleveland stripped Sullivan of his board of commissioners chairmanship. Cleveland called on Sullivan to repay the money and Stacy called on him to resign the office or face removal proceedings.
“My political opponents and the media have been touting a report that publicizes part of a recent Grand Jury proceeding. It has been no secret that I received a right-of-way settlement for damage to the property surrounding my home as part of the Etowah Road reconstruction project.
“However, my political opponents and the media have chosen to overlook several important facts. For example, I was receiving advice from the District Attorney’s Office and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation about how to handle the transaction, and I followed that advice. Also, as pointed out in the Grand Jury Report, I did not receive a profit on the transaction. Further, as acknowledged by the Grand Jury, I did not receive the maximum I could receive from the State because I voluntarily donated my land to the project and received no payment for it. I really did try to do the right thing.
“This has been a trying time for me and my family. I love public service and this County, but hate the politics that comes with it. This is the reason good people are afraid to run for office.”