Lawmaker Quits Amid Election Probe
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The longest-serving member of the Oklahoma Legislature resigned Tuesday amid a growing scandal over campaign violations during a 1998 congressional race.
``I feel it is time to leave the Senate and concentrate on other pending matters,″ state Sen. Gene Stipe said in a statement.
The 76-year-old Democrat from McAlester in southeastern Oklahoma is at the center of a federal investigation into Walt Roberts’ unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House.
Roberts, Stipe’s political protege, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate federal election laws and felony conspiracy to obstruct a Federal Election Commission investigation. He awaits sentencing.
Two other associates of Stipe have been charged with felony conspiracy to violate federal election laws.
Stipe has not been charged, but the government says a fourth, as-yet unnamed individual helped to funnel $175,000 into Roberts’ campaign, in violation of federal campaign limits.
Stipe was elected to the House in 1949 and to the Senate seven years later.