TULSA, OK – The candidacy of a fourth Tulsa County sheriff candidate is being challenged on the basis of a voter registration issue.
Tulsa County sheriff candidate Tom Helm announced he is contesting the candidacy of Erich Richter in a press release on Friday.
Voter records show Richter switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat on September 15, 2015 and then changed his registration back to Republican on October 6, 2015.
State law stipulates a candidate for sheriff must be registered with a political party for six months prior to filing for office. Richter’s last party switch came two months before the filing period for the special election for Tulsa County sheriff.
Helm says that Richter is quoted as saying, “There’s not a whole lot of difference between Republicans and Democrats nowadays,” Helm believes there is a difference between the political parties, and he expects every candidate to follow the guidelines set forth by the State of Oklahoma.
“It is of the utmost importance to me that everyone in this campaign follow the letter of the law,” Helm said, “Not following the law is part of the reason many citizens have lost faith in the Tulsa County Sheriff and I think it’s extremely important for the Sheriff of this County to follow the law explicitly.”
Richter told the Tulsa World he didn’t believe the switch was a violation of statute because it was only briefly as a possible strategy for the general election before a special election became necessary with former Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s resignation.
“And so now I’m a Republican and always have been and always will be,” Richter told the Tulsa World.
Helm also said in his release, “In addition to not meeting the rules for candidates, Richter was arrested in 2012 for fraud.”
“While it is his change of party affiliation that disqualifies him as a candidate, it is of great concern to me that Richter was arrested for fraud in 2012. I believe the Sheriff of Tulsa County should be of unquestionably strong character and high moral values,” Helm said.
Patty Bryant, Secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board, said hearings on the challenges are set to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday. Candidates are allowed to contest candidacies through 5 p.m. Friday by filing paperwork and placing a $250 deposit.
Candidates John Fitzpatrick, Arthur Jackson and Henry Jones were challenged Thursday by candidate Jason Jackson regarding peace officer certification status.
Arthur Jackson is also being challenged by Jason Jackson on Arthur Jackson filing to run as an Independent when he is a registered Democrat.
A special primary election is scheduled for March 1, 2016 with the special general election on April 5.
The candidates are running to replace longtime Sheriff Stanley Glanz who submitted his resignation effective Nov. 1, 2015, prompting the special election to fill the remainder of his term through Dec. 31, 2016.
Glanz resigned following a grand jury investigation in the wake of a deadly shooting involving Reserve Deputy Robert Bates. That grand jury investigation led to three misdemeanor indictments against the former sheriff.
A separate election will determine who becomes sheriff for the next four-year term. That filing period will be April 13-15, with a primary set for June 28. If necessary, a runoff would be held Aug. 23. The general election is Nov. 8.
You can find more information about the candidates on FortySix News Tulsa County Sheriff’s Special Election Page.