|Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 44th district
January 2011 – March 22, 2017
|Preceded by||Debbe Leftwich|
|Succeeded by||Michael Brooks-Jimenez|
February 16, 1982 |
|Alma mater||Heartland Baptist Bible College|
Ralph Allan Lee Shortey (born February 16, 1982) is an American politician from the state of Oklahoma. A member of the Republican Party, he was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2010 and served in that body until 2017. In March 22, 2017, Shortey resigned after being charged with three felony counts relating to soliciting prostitution from a male minor. In September 2017, a federal grand jury in Oklahoma City indicted Shortey on four counts of human trafficking and child pornography. In November 2017, Shortey pleaded guilty to one count of child sex trafficking, in exchange for the dropping of the other charges.
According to his official Senate biography, Shortey was born in Casper, Wyoming, and is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He spent a portion of his childhood on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Grass Mountain, South Dakota before moving to Oklahoma. He graduated from Westmoore High School in 2000, and studied at Heartland Baptist Bible College (an unaccredited Christian college) in Oklahoma City.
He worked in the oil and gas industry. He first became involved in politics around 2002 or 2003, becoming active in a number of Republican political campaigns. In 2014, Shortey established a Republican political consulting firm, the Precision Strategy Group, that reported earning nearly $300,000 "for consulting, direct mail and polling services." The Associated Press noted that court records showed that Shortey "had some past financial difficulties dating back to before his time in the Senate, including an eviction, debt-related lawsuits and foreclosure proceedings."
Shortey was first elected to the Senate in 2010. He was an advocate of "family values" during his campaigns. Senate District 44 was an open seat (incumbent Senator Debbe Leftwich, who was embroiled in a misconduct probe, decided not to run for reelection). In the initial Republican primary in July 2010, Shortey came in second place in a four-candidate field, with just under 38% of the vote. In the Republican primary runoff the following month, however, Shortey won the nomination, defeating James Davenport, a martial arts studio co-owner and ex-chief of staff to a county commissioner; Shortey received 58% of the vote to Davenport's 42%. In the November general election, Shortey defeated Democratic nominee Randy Rose, a retired Oklahoma City firefighter. Shortey won 57% of the vote to Rose's 43%.
Shortey was reelected in 2014, defeating his Democratic opponent Michael Brooks-Jimenez, an attorney. Shortey received 52% of the vote, compared to Brooks-Jimenez's 42%. In 2017, following Shortey's resignation, Brooks ran again in the special election to fill the vacancy, and won with 54% of the vote.
2017 prosecution and resignation
On March 16, 2017, Shortey was charged by the Cleveland County District Attorney with three felony counts—soliciting a minor for prostitution, prostitution within 1,000 feet (300 m) of a church, and transporting someone for prostitution—after he was caught with a 17-year-old boy in a motel room in Moore, Oklahoma. Police reported a "strong odor of raw marijuana" emanating from the room. According to an affidavit, the duo told police they had brought marijuana with them, which Shortey said they were smoking when police arrived. Video from the arrest released by Moore, Oklahoma police show Shortey in the motel room wearing a t-shirt that reads, "now go make me a sandwich.” Above a cartoon drawing of a sandwich, it cites Ephesians 5:22, a Bible verse that calls on women to obey their husbands. Police said that they discovered sexually explicit text messages between the duo in which Shortey called the teen "baby boy" and offered him cash in exchange for sexual acts. Shortey turned himself in the same day and was released on a $100,000 bond. The FBI and U.S. Secret Service in Oklahoma City both confirmed that they had joined the investigation into Shortey, and the FBI conducted a search of his home. The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but, under state law, engaging in prostitution with anyone under 18 is illegal.
After the reports emerged, but before charges were filed, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously voted to strip Shortey of a variety of privileges, including his parking space, office, and positions on committees, although he retained his seat, ability to vote, and salary. A number of Oklahoma officials from both parties called upon Shortey to step down, including Governor Mary Fallin. Shortey resigned from office on March 22, 2017—six days after being charged.
In September 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Shortey on four federal sex trafficking and child pornography charges, involving both from the March incident and videos that Shortey is accused of distributing from his smartphone in 2012 and 2013. Shortey pleaded not guilty to these charges. After the federal charges were announced, the Cleveland County district attorney dropped the state charges. A federal jury trial had been scheduled for December 2017. On November 19, 2017, Shortey reached an agreement to plead guilty on November 30 to one count of child sex trafficking; the prosecutor agreed to have the child pornography counts removed. Shorty was jailed immediately after pleading guilty on November 30 and faces a sentence of at least 10 years in prison, which Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti will decide in 2018. In early December 2017, police released their video of Shortey's arrest at a motel where he was found with a 17-year-old male prostitute.
The Associated Press reported that as a state senator, Shortey "routinely voted with his Republican colleagues on bills targeting gay and transgender people," including a measure passed in 2017 to allow business owners to discriminate against LGBT people. Shortey was also known for his firm opposition to illegal immigration and gun control. He maintained that state legislators had a constitutional right to carry guns in the Oklahoma State Capitol. Shortey took a "hard-line stance against abortion" and in 2012 proposed legislation to outlaw the use of aborted fetuses in food; the widely ridiculed bill did not receive a committee hearing. Duane Chapman ("Dog the Bounty Hunter") and his wife Beth were supporters of legislation introduced by Shortey to regulate the bounty-hunting industry.
In February 2017, Shortey came under public criticism for trying to undo loosened state drug laws which Oklahoma voters approved in November 2016. Arguing that voters had not considered the consequences of their vote, Shortey introduced a bill in the Senate to increase the penalties for drug possession within 1,000 feet of a church or a school, which Oklahoma voters had voted to classify as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Although Shortey's district was close to the Capitol, he frequently missed votes; the Associated Press noted that according to an online bill tracking service, Shortey missed nearly half of the votes taken in the Senate.
According to his official biography, Shortey is married to his "high school sweetheart" Jennifer. He has four daughters. Shortey was known in the Senate for his imposing size, standing 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall and weighing 315 pounds (143 kg).
|Republican||Charles L. Peters||164||6.61|
- "Senator Ralph Shortey - District 44". Oklahoma Senate. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
- "Senate imposes sanctions on Shortey". The Journal Record. 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2017-05-29.
- Nolan Clay, State senator resigns after being charged, The Oklahoman (March 22, 2017).
- Sean Murphy, Lawmaker charged with child prostitution filed odd bills, Associated Press (March 22, 2017).
- Herskovitz, Jon (March 16, 2017). "Oklahoma lawmaker, found with boy in motel, charged with prostitution". Reuters.
- Julie Bisbee, Oklahoma elections: Political newcomer gets Republican nod for Debbe Leftwich's old seat, The Oklahoman (August 25, 2010).
- Summary Results: Primary Election — July 27, 2010, Oklahoma State Elections Board.
- Matthew Haag, Oklahoma State Senator Faces Charges and Condemnation, New York Times (March 17, 2017).
- Summary Results: General Election — November 2, 2010, Oklahoma State Elections Board.
- Nill Miston, Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey submits resignation letter after being charged with engaging in child prostitution, KFOR (March 22, 2017).
- Michael Brooks-Jimenez: In Defense of Latino Immigrants, Oklahoma Watch (November 22, 2016).
- Dale Denwalt, Voters send two more Democrats to the Oklahoma Capitol, The Oklahoman (July 11, 2017).
- "Oklahoma state senator charged in child prostitution case". Fox News. March 16, 2017.
- Jessica Schladebeck. "Child prostitution charges filed against Oklahoma state senator". New York Daily News.
- Franklin, Dallas (March 16, 2017). "Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey charged with engaging in child prostitution". KFOR.
- Philips, Kristine (March 16, 2017). "Okla. governor calls for resignation of state senator accused of trying to have sex with teen boy". The Washington Post.
- Miston, Bill. "Moore police release body cam footage from night state senator found in hotel room with teen boy". kfor.com. Oklahoma's News 4. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- Murphy, Sean (March 17, 2017). "Oklahoma GOP senator's fall from power is stunningly fast". Associated Press.
- Attorney for accused Oklahoma senator says he'll resign, Associated Press (March 20, 2017).
- "Ralph Shortey, state senator charged with child prostitution, plans to resign, lawyer says". CBS News. 2017-03-21. Retrieved 2017-08-06. "The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but Oklahoma's prostitution statute applies to any person under 18 years old."
- Dale Denwalt (March 15, 2017). "Oklahoma lawmakers suspend Shortey for 'disorderly behavior'". The Oklahoman.
- Clay, Nolan (2017-09-13). "Indicted ex-senator sought sexual contact from young males through Craigslist, FBI says". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "Search warrants unsealed in federal child pornography case detail investigation of indicted former Oklahoma state senator". KFOR. 2017-09-15. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
The Cleveland County charges were dismissed this week after a federal grand jury indicted Shortey on two counts of transporting child pornography, one count of producing child pornography and one count of child sex trafficking.
- Clay, Nolan (November 18, 2017). "Former Oklahoma state senator has agreed to plead guilty to a child sex trafficking offense". The Oklahoman. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Clay, Nolan (December 1, 2017). "Former state Sen. Ralph Shortey jailed after pleading guilty to child sex trafficking". The Oklahoman. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- Duffy, Nick (December 5, 2017). "Homophobic Republican caught on camera with teenage male prostitute". Pink News. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
- Kristine Phillips, Okla. state senator accused of trying to have sex with teen boy now plans to resign, attorney says, Washington Post (March 21, 2017).
- "Oklahoma senator seeks changes in voter-approved drug laws". Associated Press. February 13, 2017.
- "5 Facts about Ralph Shortey's Wife Jennifer Shortey". WAG Politics. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- "Sen. Ralph Shortey resigns days after being charged with child prostitution". KOCO-TV. 0:56.
- Summary Results: Runoff Primary Election — August 24, 2010, Oklahoma State Elections Board.
- Summary Results: Runoff Primary Election — November 2, 2010, Oklahoma State Elections Board.
- Federal, State, Legislative and Judicial Races General Election — November 4, 2014, Oklahoma State Elections Board.