Oral Roberts University President Sought Advice on Political Activity

Church & State, January 2008 | Go to article overview

Oral Roberts University President Sought Advice on Political Activity


A batch of e-mail messages obtained by the Tulsa Worm allegedly show that Richard Roberts, former president of Oral Roberts University (ORU), repeatedly received advice on how to increase his political influence by affecting the outcome of city and state elections.

ORU has been rocked by a growing scandal, with charges flying that Roberts and his wife, Lindsay, spent university money extravagantly and that she had inappropriate contacts with male students. Richard Roberts resigned as president in November after the tenured faculty passed a no-confidence vote on his leadership.

But there have also been allegations of improper partisan politicking. ORU, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, is not permitted to intervene in elections. Yet the e-mails indicate that Roberts had a great interest in using the school to affect politics.

One professor, Tim Brooker, claims he was fired after he informed the ORU Board of Regents that he had been ordered by Roberts to prod his students into helping Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller's unsuccessful 2006 Tulsa mayoral campaign.

In one of the alleged messages, Stephanie Cantees, Lindsay Roberts' sister, urges Richard Roberts to contact Tulsa officials, including the mayor, about placing "ORU affiliates" on key city boards. Cantees had been hired by Roberts to provide him with regular reports on government and community matters.

"Richard if you have enough people on boards you will be far more likely to get the projects you need supported and funded," states the e-mail. …

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