Coburn `trou­bled' by treat­ment of can­di­date

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By Justin Wingerter

A for­mer U.S. se­na­tor from Ok­la­homa and en­dorser of con­tro­ver­sial Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore says he's con­cerned that the Alabama Repub­li­can is be­ing un­fairly tried in the court of pub­lic opinion.

Moore, 70, stands ac­cused of dat­ing or hav­ing sex­ual con­tact with five teenage girls when he was a pros­e­cu­tor in his 30s, in­clud­ing two girls who were 14 and 16 years old at the time. The re­tired judge, who has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, faces Demo­crat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 spe­cial elec­tion.

For­mer Sen. Tom Coburn, the only Ok­la­homan to for­mally en­dorse Moore, said in an email Satur­day that if the al­le­ga­tions are true, “he should drop out,” and if they are false, they are “pretty ex­pe­di­ent slan­der for our po­lit­i­cal process.”

On Tues­day, Coburn wrote back to say: “I am re­ally trou­bled by this.”

“He may be guilty of what peo­ple are claim­ing,” Coburn said. “But what if he is not? Seems this is rule of rulers in­stead of rule of law. I thought you were to get a fair trial of your peers in­stead of trial in the press. What has hap­pened to us?”

Sen. James Lank­ford, ROkla., sug­gested Tues­day that Moore should con­sider end­ing his cam­paign.

“Sen. Lank­ford be­lieves that al­le­ga­tions of ha­rass­ment, ex­ploita­tion, and in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ships with mi­nors must be taken very se­ri­ously,” said his spokesman, D.J. Jor­dan. “Lank­ford be­lieves that if Judge Moore can­not de­fend him­self against th­ese ac­cu­sa­tions, then he should end his cam­paign.”

Last week, both Lank­ford and Ok­la­homa's other se­na­tor, Jim In­hofe, said Moore should drop out if guilty. In­hofe's po­si­tion has not changed, a spokes­woman said Tues­day. The Tulsa Repub­li­can told re­porters Fri­day that the ac­cu­sa­tions had “par­ti­san rings” to them but that Moore, if guilty, should step aside.

“If he's guilty at all, we will fig­ure out some way or should fig­ure out some way to make sure he is not our nom­i­nee,” In­hofe said. “I think ev­ery­body's in agree­ment. I heard a state­ment that was made by Richard Shelby — he is the se­nior se­na­tor from Alabama, and he's a Repub­li­can — and he said, as I'm say­ing, that if there's any truth to that, we've got to get rid of that guy.”

Last week, many of Moore's fel­low Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate took a wait-and-see ap­proach, say­ing he should step aside only if the ac­cu­sa­tions are true. This week, some have changed their state­ments fol­low­ing a news con­fer­ence from a fifth ac­cuser and fur­ther sug­ges­tions that Moore dated teenagers while a pros­e­cu­tor in the late 1970s and 1980s.

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