The longtime political consultant whose nickname is “Dr. Dirt” will be staying in Texas next week for the primary election rather than coming to Oklahoma to testify before the multicounty grand jury.
Grand jurors meet in secret sessions three days next week in Oklahoma City. They are investigating who wanted state Rep. Mark McBride followed last year.
The Austin-based consultant, George C. Shipley, 70, had been subpoenaed to appear Tuesday before the Oklahoma multicounty grand jury “to provide testimony.”
A Texas judge ruled Friday he did not have to go.
The Travis County Criminal District Court judge, Karen Sage, made her decision after meeting with attorneys in private.
Prosecutors who advise the grand jury are not giving up and plan to seek Shipley’s testimony again for the grand jury’s session in April.
“We were disappointed in the ruling,” Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Friday, “We will refile and re-argue the matter and hope to get a better outcome.”
Shipley was subpoenaed last month after the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation determined he hired the private investigators who placed a tracker on McBride’s pickup.
An OSBI special agent spoke to the two Tuttle-based private investigators Feb. 1.
Shipley had been told to bring business records on who hired him to do research into McBride.
Shipley declined to comment Friday when The Oklahoman reached him by phone.
McBride, R-Moore, found the tracker underneath his pickup Dec. 4. He suspects the wind industry had him followed in hopes of finding something to discredit him. He has called for wind farm operators to pay the state millions of dollars in taxes.
The trade association for the wind industry has consistently denied any involvement in having McBride followed.
“I have not hired, nor has The Wind Coalition hired, any entity, including Mr. Shipley, to conduct opposition research on candidates or officeholders,” the association’s president, Jeff Clark, said Wednesday.
The Wind Coalition is based in Austin. Years ago, it and Shipley’s company had offices in the same building.
Shipley has helped Democrats win elections in Texas for decades. The next election in Texas is Tuesday, a primary. That may have played a role in the judge’s decision that he didn’t have to come to Oklahoma the same day.
Shipley became known as “Dr. Dirt” because of his reputation as a skilled opposition researcher.