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.[4] 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.

 

Early life

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.[4] He graduated from Westmoore High School in 2000,[5] and studied at Heartland Baptist Bible College (an unaccredited Christian college) in Oklahoma City.[4]

Career

He worked in the oil and gas industry.[4] He first became involved in politics around 2002 or 2003, becoming active in a number of Republican political campaigns.[6] 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."[7] 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."[7]

 

He was the Chairman​ of the Trump campaign. He voted in favor of a bathroom bill which limited transgender access to bathrooms.

 

Oklahoma Senate

2010 election

Shortey was first elected to the Senate in 2010.[7] He was an advocate of "family values" during his campaigns.[8] Senate District 44 was an open seat (incumbent Senator Debbe Leftwich, who was embroiled in a misconduct probe, decided not to run for reelection).[9] 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.[10] 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%.[9] In the November general election, Shortey defeated Democratic nominee Randy Rose, a retired Oklahoma City firefighter.[9][11] Shortey won 57% of the vote, to Rose's 43%.[12]

2014 reelection

Shortey was reelected in 2014, defeating his Democratic opponent Michael Brooks-Jimenez, an attorney.[13] Shortey received 52% of the vote, compared to Brooks-Jimenez's 42%.[14] In 2017, following Shortey's resignation, Brooks ran again in the special election to fill the vacancy, and won with 54% of the vote.[15]

Trump campaign chair

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Shortey early endorsed Donald Trump,[16] and served as a county coordinator for his campaign.[17]

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 allegedly caught with a 17-year-old boy in a motel room in Moore, Oklahoma.[18][19][20] Police reported a "strong odor of raw marijuana" emanating from the room.[20] According to an affidavit, the duo told police they had brought marijuana with them, which Shortey said they were smoking when police arrived.[21] 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.[17] Shortey turned himself in the same day and was released on a $100,000 bond.[21] 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.[22] The age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, but, under state law, engaging in prostitution with anyone under 18 is illegal.[5]

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.[5] A number of Oklahoma officials from both parties called upon Shortey to step down, including Governor Mary Fallin.[8] Shortey resigned from office on March 22, 2017; six days after being charged.[6]

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.[5] After the federal charges were announced, the Cleveland County district attorney dropped the state charges.[5] A federal jury trial had been scheduled for December 2017. In November 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. Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti will decide Shortey's prison sentence.[5] On November 19, 2017 Ralph Shortey pled guilty to child sex trafficking and faces a sentence of at least 10 years in prison.[5] 

He frequently voted against LGBT members as part of his platform. Many people pointed out the irony of this since he cheated on his wife with a 17 year old boy he met on Craigslist​. They were smoking Marijuana​ when the officers related them.[34]

Political positions

Shortey was a staunch conservative in the Republican-dominated legislature.[7] The Oklahoman noted that Shortey filed bills that "often drew national attention and, at times, national ridicule."[6]

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.[17] Shortey was also known for his firm opposition to illegal immigration and gun control.[16] He maintained that state legislators had a constitutional right to carry guns in the Oklahoma State Capitol.[7] Shortey took a "hard-line stance against abortion"[8] and in 2012 proposed legislation to outlaw the use of aborted fetuses in food; the widely ridiculed bill did not receive a committee hearing.[17] Duane Chapman ("Dog the Bounty Hunter") and his wife Beth were supporters of legislation introduced by Shortey to regulate the bounty-hunting industry.[7]

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.[17][5]

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.[7]

Personal life

According to his official biography, Shortey is married to his "high school sweetheart" Jennifer.[4][16] He has four daughters.[6][5] Shortey was known in the Senate for his imposing size, standing 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 315 pounds.[6]

Electoral history

2010

Oklahoma Senate primary election, 2010[10]
PartyCandidateVotes%
 RepublicanJames Davenport1,23949.94
 RepublicanRalph Shortey94137.93
 RepublicanCharles L. Peters1646.61
 RepublicanBing Wines1375.52
Oklahoma Senate primary runoff election, 2010[5]
PartyCandidateVotes%
 RepublicanRalph Shortey1,30658.30
 RepublicanJames Davenport93441.70
Oklahoma Senate general election, 2010[5]
PartyCandidateVotes%
 RepublicanRalph Shortey6,06057.34
 DemocraticRandy Rose4,50942.66

2014

Oklahoma Senate general election, 2014[32]
PartyCandidateVotes%
 RepublicanRalph Shortey5,41851.7
 DemocraticMichael Brooks-Jimenez4,38441.8
 IndependentConstance Fawcett6806.5