Oklahoma Democratic Party executive director Gordon Melson is
taking his questions about almost $250,000 in cash given to Gov.
Frank Keating by retired financier Jack Dreyfus to the State Ethics
Commission, attorney general and possibly the U.S. attorney's
Keating has acknowledged receiving $10,000 for each of his three
children annually over an eight- or nine-year period. However, he
says the funds were gifts from a friend that went toward his
children's education-related expenses and summer trips.
The governor does not believe he violated ethics rules or state
or federal tax laws by accepting the money.
Although the governor also admits to setting up meetings between
Dreyfus and both federal and state prison officials concerning the
use of the drug Dilantin to keep inmates calm, Keating says the
contributions from Dreyfus did not constitute influence-peddling or
bribes. Both men, and the corrections officials involved, say
nothing came of these meetings.
Dreyfus, founder of a line of mutual funds, is a proponent of
Dilantin, with which he credits his own triumph over clinical
At a State Capitol news conference Thursday, Melson said the
revelation that Dreyfus met with both current corrections Director
James Saffle and his predecessor Larry Fields shows the matter
warrants an official probe.
Melson cited a tax expert quoted in a Dallas newspaper article
who said that the status of each $10,000 as a true gift depends upon
how it was used. He said Keating's effort at setting up the meetings
for Dreyfus could have changed the character of the funds into
payments prohibited by law.
The Democratic party official attempted to make a verbal request
for an Ethics Commission investigation at a public hearing Thursday
However, commission Chair Ken Elliott said that such requests
must be made in writing.
Melson said he would also ask Attorney General Drew Edmondson to
bring the matter before the multi-county grand jury, in case
documents must be subpoenaed.
"It will set a bad precedent if this goes unscrutinized," said
He indicated that he may postpone taking the case to the U.S.
attorney's office, and possibly the Internal Revenue Service, until
next week if Keating comes forth with certain documents absolving
him of wrongdoing:
* His answers to the incoming Bush administration's background
questionnaire. Keating was said to be under consideration for the
post of attorney general before the Dreyfus gifts became known.
Reportedly the information was leaked by someone on the Bush team.
Melson said it would be agreeable to him if purely personal data is
redacted from the questionnaire before it is made public.
"If Governor Keating is as clean as he claims to be on this and
other matters, I think this would help clear the air," said Melson.
* An explanation as to how the money was deposited and spent.
"This information will help determine whether the governor
following federal and state law on these gifts," Melson said. …