Former Oklahoma Treasurer Ellis Edwards claims in a lawsuit that the same adverse publicity that cost him re-election in 1990 also helped subject him to stress-induced multiple sclerosis.
In a workers' compensation lawsuit filed June 26 against the state, Mr. Edwards, a former brokerage executive, alleges that "extreme pressure and strain" from his days as state treasurer gave rise to the disease. He is seeking unspecified damages.
Multiple sclerosis, a disorder of the central nervous system, can result in speech defects and loss of muscular coordination. Mr. Edwards claims he first detected the disease on July 7, 1990, nearly seven months before the last day of his four-year term.
Mr. Edwards could not be reached at his Oklahoma City home last week. He is reportedly living in Los Angeles and taking a summer course in screenwriting at the University of California, his mother told local reporters.
In his claim, the former treasurer blamed the media, other state agencies and officials, and the state auditor's office in particular for his health problems.
He cited adverse publicity over auditor findings that his office had illegally invested millions of dollars in state funds and over the disclosure of an alleged kickback scheme in his office. No charges have ever been filed.
After the November 1990 election, Mr. Edwards said the publicity over his flamboyant style helped lead to his defeat by current Treasurer Claudette Henry.
Lawyers for the state are seeking medical evidence of the diagnosis, saying there is no medical evidence of what causes multiple sclerosis.