Letters sent anonymously to a Muskogee city councilor prompted a second investigation initiated this week by police.
Ward III Councilor Ivory Vann said he has received mail on four occasions since an earlier investigation revealed a scheme initiated by a city employee. Development Services Supervisor Dan Hurd said he sent three empty envelopes by certified mail to the home of Vann’s fiancee in an attempt to discredit the councilor and his eligibility for service.
Since the first investigation concluded in June, Vann said he has received four pieces of mail sent anonymously through the U.S. Postal Service. Three of those, he said, were addressed to him but mailed to his fiancee’s address.
The most recent letter, the author of which described Vann as “a Bully” and warned him to “leave the community alone about face masks,” was postmarked Aug. 7. The anonymous sender also accused the city councilor of “wanting everything for free” and offered this advice: “Learn to shut-up and LISTEN.”
Vann discussed the matter on Tuesday with City Attorney Roy Tucker after receiving the most recent — and maybe the most menacing — letter. Tucker said he advised Vann to report his receipt of the anonymous mail to police.
“He told me that would be best, that way they can compare handwriting and see if they are coming from the same people,” Vann said. “In case something happens, they know about it and are looking into it.”
The author of one letter took Vann to task about his proposal to forgive parking fees paid by VA Call Center employees who were not required to go to work due to pandemic-related closures. The author of the most recent letter described him as “a fake with a fake disability” and states “all lives matter not just Blacks.”
Vann acknowledged his criticisms — a lack of diversity on city boards and the quality of work on municipal projects are frequent issues — may anger some constituents. But Vann said he believes oversight is an important role for city councilors.
“I don’t see how I made myself a target just by doing what’s right — I won’t be lying,” Vann said. “It may offend some people, but it’s the truth — right is right and wrong is wrong — but I am just trying to do what’s right.”
The first police investigation, while revealing the identity of the sender, resulted with no criminal charges. Documents obtained from the city show a third-party investigation conducted by an Oklahoma City law firm that primarily defends county governments against civil claims cost taxpayers more than $10,000 and resulted with Hurd’s demotion and pay cut of about $11,000.