Former Cabinet Secretary David Ostrowe filed a lawsuit Thursday over a January 2020 attempted bribery charge against him that was dismissed in May 2021.
Ostrowe, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s former secretary of digital transformation and administration, resigned from that post after a multicounty grand jury indictment, overseen by then-Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office, was dismissed against him.
The lawsuit names Hunter, the Oklahoma Tax Commission, Tax Commissioner Charles Prater and former Tax Commissioners Steve Burrage and Clark Jolley as defendants.
The indictment alleged that Ostrowe tried to pressure Prater and Burrage to drop penalties and late fees owed by former state Sen. Jason Smalley’s business.
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In the lawsuit petition, Ostrowe claims that he was “maliciously” indicted Dec. 17, 2020, and that Hunter “pre-maturely leaked, or caused to be leaked, the frivolous indictment” to “maximize the harmful impact” it would have on him.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission members’ six-figure salaries had recently come under scrutiny by Ostrowe in his Cabinet position, and the suit claims that the commissioners were “fuming” because of his criticism.
“With Mr. Ostrowe’s reputation in shatters, his freedom and liberty threatened, success in the private sector jeopardized, and role as an unpaid cabinet secretary for Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt upended, Mr. Hunter and others had accomplished what they set out to do — use their collective political power to ruin another man’s life,” the lawsuit says.
Soon after the charges were dropped in May 2021, Ostrowe filed an open records request with the Oklahoma Tax Commission that was denied for being “overly broad” — also a subject of Ostrowe’s lawsuit. He had filed for an injunction in December to compel the Tax Commission to produce the documents he requested.
The Attorney General’s Office did not comment on the litigation.