See update Dec. 20 update: UPDATE: Court unseals Ed Shadid's divorce records
When asked about the records, acquired from Gazette sources, Shadid said he is ready for the anticipated public reaction later this week if the full divorce file is unsealed.
“But I don’t want (ex-wife) Dina (Hammam) or the children to be hurt. I don’t want the (addiction) recovery movement to be hurt. I’m at peace with my past. I still have regret and a healthy amount of shame, but I can look at myself in the mirror and know I’ve done so much hard work the last nine years learning to love myself.”
Special Judge Lisa K. Hammond sealed the file in 2007 to protect the couple’s three children from indiscretions both parents committed during the marriage and bitter divorce battle.
With Shadid posing a serious threat to unseat incumbent Mayor Mick Cornett in next spring’s mayoral election, The Oklahoman newspaper, which also has supported Cornett’s runs for political office, has tried for two months to unseal the divorce records. Hammond will decide Friday if she will open the secret file as requested by the newspaper.
“I don’t have a chance right now (to keep divorce records sealed),” Shadid told Oklahoma Gazette in an exclusive interview. “I already know what the result is.”
According to several verified sources, Hammond reportedly has told others, including an elected district judge, that she is inclined to release the divorce records since Shadid is seeking the mayor’s post. The judge also sealed her 2007 order explaining why the file was made secret, a move that was criticized by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in a recent decision involving the newspaper’s attempt to obtain the records.
coverage thus far focused on Shadid invoking his constitutional Fifth
Amendment right against self-incrimination during a divorce
deposition in June 2005. However, the deposition is not part of the
sealed file, Shadid said.
On several occasions during the deposition, Shadid’s attorney instructed him not to answer questions about past marijuana or cocaine use. Shadid also admitted he underwent a previous drug treatment program at age 18 in San Antonio, Texas.
Shadid said he began drinking alcohol at 15, started smoking marijuana at 16 and used hallucinogens at 17. The drug use continued until November 2004 when Shadid claims he stopped.
Shadid, a spinal surgeon, admitted himself in January 2005 to Talbott Recovery in Atlanta, Ga., to deal with the addiction. He stayed at the center until mid-April 2005 and has been drug-free since that time, the Ward 2 councilman said.
“The best thing that happened to me was going to treatment for three months,” the councilman said. “I was able to learn new tools about dealing with pain and trauma and being honest with other human beings about who you are. It was one of the most beautiful and powerful experiences I’ve ever had in my life.”
The “real work” began after Shadid left the Atlanta treatment center.
“You’re sober and now you begin applying all the tools you have to a real world environment,” he said.
For Shadid, that meant diving head first into a high stress divorce case with attorneys and custody evaluators while “hemorrhaging money.”
“I was fighting to have a relationship with my children,” he recalled. “But as painful as that was, it made me stronger and battle tested.”
Record reviewShadid’s cocaine use occurred in 2000 and again in August 2004 when he and his brother traveled to Las Vegas for a weekend. That was the last time Shadid used the drug, he said, but it was another story for his brother who died two months later from a drug overdose.
Records reflect that in 2003 and 2004, Shadid destroyed personal property and shouted at his wife during arguments when their children were present.
In the 2005 divorce deposition, Shadid admitted he threw a chair against a wall, kicked a hole in a wall and broke a lamp during a heated argument with his wife. Those altercations, he said, occurred while he was dealing with the emotional trauma of his brother’s death.
Another serious allegation made in the divorce file acquired by Oklahoma Gazette is one of sexual abuse by Shadid toward his children. The allegation was made by a nanny employed by Shadid’s ex-wife. However, an investigation by the Department of Human Services discovered no wrongdoing. Instead, investigators recommended the nanny should be barred from being with the children.
Shadid admits he ignored his wife “in a lot of different ways,” including the use of pornography and his medical practice as another way to escape the marriage relationship.
Friendly allianceStrange as it may seem, the bitter divorce feud between Shadid and Hammam now has the pair fighting each other’s battles.
During a recent meeting of Leadership OKC on Dec. 12, The Oklahoman Editor Kelly Dyer Fry and Hammam engaged in a public dialogue about the newspaper’s quest to unseal the records.
Hammam asked Fry why The Oklahoman was demanding the immediate release of the entire divorce file. According to witnesses at the meeting, Fry replied that the newspaper was only interested in the material related to Shadid invoking the Fifth Amendment.
Shadid claims he met with Fry last month at the newspaper office, offering to show reporters the entire divorce file provided The Oklahoman would agree not to publish information that would hurt the three children — ages 9, 10 and 12. According to Shadid, newspaper officials declined the offer.
Fry did not return a phone call for comment Monday.
At the same time, social media has been divided over the controversy with some writers asking why Cornett has not been questioned about his reported drug use. In a YouTube video dated Dec. 31, 2011, Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne told an OKC concert audience that Cornett, “your own pot smoking mayor” had proclaimed that date as Yokolahoma Day in honor of international recording artist Yoko Ono celebrating New Year’s Eve in OKC.
Coyne, known for his flamboyant comments and actions, also said, “The mayor of OKC, a good friend of ours, secretly in his own home smokes marijuana.” The comment drew loud cheers from the audience. The video is publicly available on YouTube.
In a text to Oklahoma Gazette late Sunday night, Coyne clarified what he said: “It was just a silly remark. No I've never smoked pot with Mayor Cornett and I don't think he smokes pot. But, I think he is open minded and has progressive solutions for lower income families in OKC and perhaps he will consider the outdated marihuana laws, and their impact on our families and community in his next term.”
"The mayor has never done illegal drugs," the mayor's chief of staff Steve Hill wrote in an email message to Oklahoma Gazette.
Apparently, Shadid finds himself battling more than Cornett and the state’s largest daily newspaper in this election, he told Oklahoma Gazette.
A former state senator sent Shadid an unsolicited text message implying that the councilman’s troubles might go away if he bowed out of the mayor’s race.
“Based on some conversations it is my opinion that there is a good chance the paper does not pursue any further if you drop out of the race and either resign or announce you won’t run for election to city council. Just my opinion. No guarantees,” the text states.
Moving forwardDespite the public attacks, Shadid, described as a progressive, said there’s nothing in the divorce file that would preclude him from making sound decisions as mayor.
“I performed at an extraordinary level as a doctor and I’d do the same as mayor,” he said.
Still, Shadid believes The Oklahoman’s demand for the entire divorce file has nothing to do with the Fifth Amendment right he invoked.
“It’s about discrediting me,” he said. “I know when this (divorce file) comes out, it will be in front of hundreds of thousands of people, but I also know what to do to take care of myself and I know what to do take care of my children and it’s going to be OK.”
Shadid knows his foray into OKC politics has been costly in terms of privacy and financial resources. Although he freely admits he’s still a millionaire, Shadid was candid when asked about his medical practice.
“I’ve lost an incredible amount of money the last three years,” he said, referring to his time on the city council. “I had a booming surgical practice which is a skeleton of what it was. I used to work six to seven days a week at my medical practice. I work two now.”
Despite the negatives associated with politics, Shadid remains optimistic.
“It has been worth it and it’ll be worth it even with all this stuff coming out. I made a deal with God. Politics is a way of making amends,” he said, referring to the lessons he learned in drug treatment. “You have to be willing to suffer. There has to be a willingness to endure pain and then everything will be OK.”
For Shadid, he’s accumulated enough wealth and enough material goods, so much in fact, that he has no plans to return to his old work habits.
“Now, I have to work for others,” he said.