DALLAS -- An Oklahoma grand jury yesterday urged the state Legislature to begin impeachment proceedings against Gov. David Walters, who was indicted this fall for violating campaign finance laws.
In their final report culminating 18 months of investigation, jurors said their earlier indictment of Walters in connection with his 1990 campaign financing had precipitated "grave concerns among many Oklahomans" as well as legal challenges.
"We believe that the condition of the office of governor, given these realities and possibilities, is compromised," says the report to presiding Judge Donald Power.
Representatives at the governor's office were not immediately available for comment.
But Phil Stambeck, a member of the Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office and special adviser to the grand jury, said jurors thought that Walters was no longer effective because of the controversy.
The grand jury report will strengthen an existing legislative push to impeach Walters when the Oklahoma Legislature convenes Feb. 7, sources said.
The move began after Walters was secretly indicted in September on eight felony counts as well as six per-jury and two conspiracy counts. At issue was acceptance of campaign contributions from individuals and corporations that exceeded the $5,000 cap under Oklahoma law.
In an October plea-bargain agreement, Walters pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of violating state campaign finance laws.
The plea bargain unleashed a flurry of public criticism of Walters, which was indicated in a newspaper poll showing the majority of respondents wanted him impeached.
The bargain also has jeopardized a proposed $1.6 billion Oklahoma Turnpike project, which Walters spearheaded. The project is expected to be scaled back significantly.
In addition to Walters, another state official, Oklahoma Treasurer Claudette Henry, faces impeachment for improper conduct in connection with securities trading for the state's portfolio.