Archive for June, 2006

First Annual Skunk Awards

June 30, 2006

Legislator cites 21% pay raises for elected officials

Most people are happy when they receive a raise from their employer, Paul Wesselhoft, R-Oklahoma City, is outraged. The recently concluded budget agreement calls for giving judges and statewide elected officials a 21% raise in pay. The raise has prompted Wesselhoft to unveil his first annual Skunk-Master Award. The award is given for legislation which best “exhibits the pugnacious, stagnant smell of governmental greed.” Wesselhoft said in a statement:

“In light of the Legislature’s unwillingness to give state employees any more than a 5-percent pay increase, of which the legislature will only fund half, and its unwillingness to raise the minimum wage by a buck, my colleagues in the House nevertheless passed a bill that will fully fund a bloated pay increase for judges and elected officials.”

The salary for Governor Henry and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would increase to more than $140,000, up from $117,000, according to Wesselhoft’s release.

Ad Watch: Who Is Behind The Calvey Ads?

June 30, 2006

It is clear that the ads currently running for Kevin Calvey are not being paid for by his campaign. The question is who is paying for them?

The ad’s disclaimer reads “Paid for by Club for Growth State Action” leading one to assume that it is the national Club for Growth organization behind the commercials. However, Club for Growth’s David Keating said the state action club is part of an “umbrella group” for a handful of state affiliates of the Club for Growth. However, Oklahoma is “not listed among the few states that have affiliates.” Keating explained that Club for Growth State Action was “lobbying-type organization” with its own board of directors, office and a different tax status than CFG (Casteel, Daily Oklahoman, 6/24).

The Oklahoma Political News Service will continue to investigate.

Great Plains Bankruptcy Costs Illinois Taxpayers

June 29, 2006

Illinois County fails to file proper paperwork for bankruptcy auction

After last weeks bankruptcy fire sale of Great Plains Airlines’ spare parts, revelations are coming forward that Great Plains’ incompetence was not only a localized affair. The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that the repercussions have spread to St. Claire County, Illinois, home of MidAmerica Airport. The county pulled out all the stops to get airline service at an all-but-empty airport, including guaranteeing $750,000 in loans to Great Plains. Its only collateral – the recently auctioned spare parts. According to the bankruptcy trustee, the county, “failed to file the proper paperwork” which will entitle the county to absolutely nothing. How many more Mid America Airport scenarios are there out there connected to the Great Plains debacle? Oklahoma Political News Service is investigating…

Fallin and Immigration: Guest Workers?

June 29, 2006

Immigration activists question Fallin position

Always first with the inside political gossip, the Oklahoma Political News Service, has heard learned that immigration activists are unhappy with Mary Fallin’s position on illegal immigration.

On her website, Fallin, a candidate for the CD 5 nomination, states in her position on illegal immigration that,

“We must insist on assimilation. America has always welcomed immigrants. It is a cornerstone of our democracy. But people who wish to be part of our great nation must take on the responsibility of citizenship. They should learn our language, abide by our laws and strive to contribute to our society.”

Illegal immigration activist have been critical, say in that this amounts to a guest worker program.

The Oklahoma Political News Service is investigating…

Veterans Come Out Against Sullivan Ad

June 29, 2006

Ask Sullivan why he publicly opposes them?

Bob Sullivan continues to take heat for airing what is being called a misleading attack on Congressman Ernest Istook’s record. The letter from veteran’s advocates, Alvin F. Speck and Thomas E. Cook, express concern with Sullivan’s “position against Veterans Appropriations bill HR 2620, Roll Call #434 in 2001. You’re spending quite a bit of money on television decrying this legislation.”

The letter goes on to say, “As veterans, we’re very concerned what your position means for us in your campaign for Governor of Oklahoma. We have risked our lives and health for America and because of that nobody in the Oklahoma delegation opposed this important legislation.”

“Given these facts please stop using the support of veterans as a reason to attack your political opponents and immediately apologize for your actions. It is shameful and unbecoming of someone who wants to govern the state to use the support of veterans of this country in the manor that you have chosen.”

The Oklahoma Political News Service will continue to follow the story.

Ad Watch: LG Race

June 29, 2006

Askins first on TV

In what is sure to be a heated race for a job with the least amount of official responsibility, Democrat Jari Askins became the first candidate, in either primary to go on the air.

Her ad which is a bio spot, highlights Askin’s judicial background “tough on crime” and highlights her groundbreaking status as the “first women elected to lead House Democrats.”

The ad is void of any controversial claims, but the mud is sure to fly as this race heats up.

Oklahoma Political News Service will continue to keep an eye on this race

Minumum Wage Petition Drive Fails

June 29, 2006

Raise Oklahoma announced that it is ending its minimum wage petition drive because of a failure to achieve enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Acccording to state law, the group needed at least 117,101 signatures within 90 days of beginning the petition drive. Like most Marxists ideas that refuse to die, spokesman Linda Murphy vows to try again. It is apparent by Raise Oklahoma’s failure, that most Oklahomans understand that government -mandating raising the minimum wage – hurts small businesses and the entry level jobs they provide to teenagers and low skilled workers. The Oklahoma Political Affairs Council has a comprehensive article on the truth behind the minimum wage debate. For example:

“The conventional wisdom is that endless throngs of single parents are struggling to make ends meet while working a job that offers only minimum wages and no opportunity for advancement. But here are some facts from the BLS about minimum wage earners in the United States (the BLS did not have data specifically on Oklahoma, but there is no reason to believe Oklahoma would deviate significantly from the national picture.)

  • 5.3% of all minimum-wage earners live in households in poverty.
  • 40% of minimum-wage earners live in households with incomes of $60,000 and higher.
  • 15% of minimum-wage earners remain at the minimum wage for three years.
  • 82% of minimum-wage earners do not have dependents.

OK Democratic Grassroots Express Dissatisfaction

June 28, 2006

Despite corruption scandals in Washington and President Bush’s low approval ratings, Oklahoma grassroots activists are expressing on their concern with their party’s lack of “direction” and “strategy”. Forum members wrote:

“There is a sense of frustration by those of us in the grass roots that those in the policy levels of the Democratic policy are so confused about which direction to go and what strategy to pursue, that we could just spit.”

“See all the checks and balances disappearing as the Republicans control all three branches of our government, I’m just burned out. I feel helpless.”

“I feel the same way often”

“I feel frustrated because of people like Tim Rees and Scott Meachum. They sell out working Oklahomans because they have their egos that says they are better than the rest of us.”

Istook Calls Sullivan Ad "Doubly Dishonest"

June 28, 2006

Congressman Istook’s campaign responded yesterday in a press release (below) to Republican governor candidate Bob Sullivan’s new television ad criticizing Istook’s Congressional votes and fiscal conservatism. Congressman Istook called Sullivan ads “deliberately misleading” and “doubly dishonest.”

“Bob Sullivan has gone beyond breaking his written pledge to a clean campaign. That was the first dishonesty. Second, and what’s worse is that he’s telling falsehoods. That makes him doubly dishonest.”

His statements and his TV ads deliberately mislead people about votes in Congress. He distorts a vote on funding veterans’ benefits, by claiming it was a pork barrel vote. That’s dishonest. He even claims that a vote on funding the military was actually a pork-barrel vote. Again, that’s dishonest. He is willing to say or do anything, however false, just to try to win an election.”

Anyone who checks the Congressional Record will see that the votes he criticizes were final votes on major bills to take care of our veterans, our national defense and so forth. These were not separate votes on any pork-barrel project. I don’t like it when bits of pork are slipped into those bills, but that didn’t justify voting against our veterans or our military. Like Senators Inhofe and Nickles, and all of Oklahoma’s Congressmen, I voted for bills that were imperfect but were still important. None of the Oklahoma delegation voted any different than I did on these bills.”

“I wasn’t going to cut off benefits to disabled veterans, their widows or their children, nor close the VA hospitals and VA centers. Would Mr. Sullivan have voted against these bills? Then he would have voted against veterans. He’s taking cheap shots at a $25-billion package for our veterans just because there was a $1-million problem. When it comes to up-or-down votes like these, you cannot change it, and you can’t vote for some parts of the bill and against other parts.”

My record on spending is solidly conservative, including awards every year from responsible groups like the National Taxpayer’s Union and Citizens Against Government Waste. I’m the principal author of the Balanced Budget Amendment, which is the solution we need to these spending problems. I’m committed to fiscal responsibility, and I’ll continue that commitment as Governor.”

Cick here for Internet links to the votes singled out by Sullivan and links to the full text of the bills featured in Sullivan’s ads and press releases.

Ad-War Shock: Ben Harris Behind Sullivan Istook Blast

June 28, 2006

If Oklahoma politics had a black market in weapons of mass destruction, says one congressional campaign manager who asked we not use his name, Ben Harris would be high up on the FBI’s most wanted list. In 2002, when Steve Largent ran for Governor, then-Independent Gary Williamson stopped the Republican dead in his tracks with an ad the public found so vile, most viewers switched their channels.

The 30-second television spot showed the World Trade Center towers shortly before their collapse and reminded viewers that Congressman Steve Largent was hunting in Idaho while Congress was voting on resolutions addressing the terrorist attacks. At the time, Largent had been unreachable due to communications problems and was unaware of either the attacks or the votes. Visibly shaken upon returning to peppering by the media, Largent swore at repeated questioning on the subject. All of the above made it into the Ben Harris ad. Gary Williamson siphoned off enough of the vote that 43% was sufficient to put Brad Henry in the governor’s mansion.

Four years later, Bob Sullivan has hired Ben “the hit man” Harris for his campaign’s ads. Not to tell the truth. Not even to tell the full story. His first attack ad on uber-conservative Congresman Ernest Istook used masks, doctored photographs, a paid actor, sounds of pigs squealing, even a bobble-head doll of the Congressman. All it lacked was a shred of truth.

But that has never been Ben Harris’ style. Unfortunately, for Oklahoma voters, it may only be the beginning, as it clearly wasn’t the knock-out blow the 9-11 ad was for Largent.

Harris has a checkered past. He quit a state job in Florida after ethical concerns were raised. An investigation centered on allegations Ben Harris gave contracts to vendors with whom he had a personal relationship.

Jerry Regier, then head of Florida’s child-protection agency, hired Harris. Regier in July 2004 suspended Harris and a co-worker, Glenn Palmiere, for their actions. Harris and Palmiere resigned a couple weeks later and Regier, who served from 2000 to 2002 as temporary head of the Oklahoma Health Department, resigned later that summer. The three have said they reimbursed vendors for everything they received.

The St. Petersburg, Fla., Times reported a state report showed Harris received a karaoke machine from an individual involved with a company that received 298 contracts totaling more than $4 million from the state agency, accepted a “spa massage” that a computer company paid for, and circumvented state purchasing requirements in hiring a consultant.

Harris and Palmiere in June 2004 traveled to Sydney, Australia, at the expense of a software company that won a $500,000 contract with the Florida agency the previous year, the newspaper reported.