Oklahoma lawmaker settles lawsuit over tracking device

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma legislator settled his lawsuit against a Texas political consultant over a tracking device the lawmaker found on his pickup truck.

Federal court records show Republican state Rep. Mark McBride settled his lawsuit earlier this month against Austin, Texas-based political consultant George Shipley. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

McBride declined to comment on the settlement Monday, but said he’s glad to put the matter behind him.

His lawsuit claimed Shipley, a longtime political consultant nicknamed “Dr. Dirt” for his ability to uncover damaging information on his clients’ opponents, was hired by an unnamed company to perform opposition research on McBride. The suit alleged Shipley then hired an Oklahoma-based private investigation firm to conduct surveillance on McBride’s whereabouts.

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Shipley’s attorney, Dan Webber, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Shipley maintained in court filings that he did nothing wrong and had asked the court to dismiss the case.

Oklahoma authorities began investigating after McBride discovered the device on his truck in December 2017, but criminal charges were never filed.

McBride has said he suspects officials connected to the wind industry sought to discredit him for his outspoken criticism of the industry and for sponsoring legislation to end its tax subsidies. Oklahoma Wind Coalition Executive Director Mark Yates has denied those claims.

“Plaintiffs have tried unsuccessfully to find out who hired the Shipley defendants, what specific information they were attempting to obtain, what information they actually obtained, and who that information was disclosed to in the process,” McBride’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.

McBride previously settled a separate lawsuit filed in state court against the private investigation company, Eastridge Investigations and Asset Protection. The terms of that settlement also were not disclosed.

McBride’s experience led to a new law signed by the governor earlier this year that expands the definition of stalking to include the unauthorized use of a GPS to track someone’s whereabouts without their knowledge, with some exceptions.

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