Oklahoma City - The deputy director of the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission is facing termination after sending a June 4 e-mail to the Grand River Dam Authority in which he makes allegations of corruption and cronyism.
Austin Gilley believes the recent decision by the director to place him on suspension with pay has little to do with a brazen e-mail and everything to do with what he learned during a brief employment with GRDA.
The 30-year-old state officer is now concerned with obtaining a fair hearing - something he believes may be denied him.
A meeting of the merit commission - where Gilley planned to request that he be allowed to bypass the executive director and ask the commission board directly for a fair hearing and explain his actions - was cancelled without reason and in violation of the Open Meeting Act.
“All I want is due process,” Gilley said.
Gilley left the commission to work for GRDA in August of 2007 and returned to his deputy director post within the commission days later.
“I was suspended for sending a reply e-mail to an employee of the Grand River Dam Authority, where I was the Human Resources Director for one week,” Gilley wrote in a June 26 letter to the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office.
The e-mail was sent from Gilley's protection commission office six months after he walked away from GRDA and was re-hired by the merit commission.
Recently, after disclosing a journal of his four-day experience at GRDA and expressing his concerns of what he learned there to Merit Protection Commission Executive Director Susan Bussey, Gilley found himself suspended with pay.
Gilley said he can understand being disciplined for an inappropriate e-mail, but he questions why suddenly he is being forced out of the system.
On June 20, Gilley received a notice of proposed discharge from Bussey in which she stated “This is to inform you of my intention to discharge you from your position as a classified/permanent, Human Resources Manager II. While you are detailed to the deputy director position, you retain your status as a classified employee. Therefore, you are entitled to a pretermination hearing.”
Bussey's notice indicated that the proposed action against Gilley is a direct result of the June 4 e-mail, changing passwords in the commission network and for contacting registrants in an online orientation class that he would not be teaching the orientation due to his suspension. Gilley had been instructed not to contact the registrants, therefore, his actions prompted Bussey to cite insubordination as a basis for discharge.
“In response to the suspension, I filed on June 9 MPC Appeal 08-193 Austin Gilley v. Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission, a claim of retaliation against a whistleblower under the statute Title 74, Section 840-2.5,” Gilley said. “My attorneys have filed a motion for the director to allow me to ask the commission directly to order a fair hearing. … I also appeared at the Attorney General's Office on June 10 at the invitation of Assistant Attorney Generals Richard Denny and Wayne Johnson to provide a network password and backup tape to MPC via their legal representation. I asked that Denny also take and itemize my office keys and some additional evidence related to my appeal. That did not happen.”
Gilley said he had no intention of releasing passwords if the attorney general's office would not take his office keys and other items related to his classified position. He also intended to talk with the attorney general's staff bout the application of procedures in the Oklahoma Personnel Act and the handling of his appeal.
“I never got the chance to talk to them about that because I was arrested and taken to Oklahoma County Jail,” Gilley said. “Why would this Commission and the Attorney General not allow me to use the statutory provisions available for me to ask for a fair hearing? I have reason to believe I can prove with credible evidence and testimony that the Grand River Dam Authority is using its state-sanctioned power to protect private land investments and obstruct justice and I now have reason to believe that the commission and the attorney general's office may be operating in collusion with the GRDA administration to protect themselves, silence me, and prevent me from getting a fair hearing.”