OKLAHOMA CITY — The Republican candidates in the race for the open congressional seat in eastern Oklahoma sparred Thursday over the latest attack ad that highlights federal gun charges against a former employee of Markwayne Mullin.
The ad by George Faught’s campaign that began airing this week details the arrest and conviction of former Mullin Plumbing employee Timothy Saylor on federal gun charges. Saylor, who had a previous felony conviction in California, was arrested by Broken Arrow police in 2009 after officers raided a Mullin Plumbing office in the Tulsa suburb and seized several firearms and ammunition from a gun safe in the office, according to court documents. More firearms and ammunition were found at Saylor’s home and inside his work vehicle, the records show.
Saylor eventually pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was sentenced to two years in prison but has since been released, court records show.
The ad goes on to suggest that Mullin himself could face charges in connection with the investigation, a claim that Mullin campaign manager Tim Ross dismissed Thursday as “laughable.”
“It’s just a ridiculous claim on its face to insinuate that,” Ross said. “They’re just using scare tactics to try and achieve a means they weren’t able to otherwise.”
Mullin’s campaign released statements from Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz and former U.S. Attorney David O’Meilia, whose office brought the charges against Saylor, that said there is no indication Mullin did anything inappropriate.
Current U.S. Attorney Scott Woodward did not immediately return a phone message for comment, but Broken Arrow police Maj. Mark Irwin said Mullin cooperated fully with the investigation and that police consider the case closed.
Faught’s campaign stood by the ad Thursday.
“It would appear, based on the attorneys that we have spoken to, that it is not a closed case,” Faught campaign manager Elisha Krauss said.
Krauss pointed to court documents in which Mullin admitted to police that he had given handguns to Saylor to clean and that he and Saylor had shot firearms together recreationally. Providing a felon with a firearm is a violation of both state and federal law.
“The statute of limitation on those is not up until 2014,” she added.
Mullin said he was unaware of Saylor’s criminal history and that while he routinely conducts background checks on new hires, such a check was not conducted on Saylor since he already worked for a company that Mullin Plumbing acquired. Mullin also has said that Saylor only worked on commercial job sites and was not dispatched to residential calls.
Mullin and Faught were the top vote-getters in a six-way Republican primary on June 26. Mullin topped the field with 42 percent of the vote, but Faught finished second with 23 percent, forcing an Aug. 28 runoff for the nomination. Two Democrats — longtime prosecutor Rob Wallace and Muskogee-based seed company owner Wayne Herriman — also will meet in the Aug. 28 primary runoff. The winners will face independent Michael Fulks in the November general election.
The candidates are seeking to replace current Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, who surprisingly announced last summer that he wouldn’t seek a fifth term in office.