Archive for July, 2007

Inhofe Posts Video Message On Iraq

July 31, 2007

Oklahoma’s Senior Senator, James Inhofe, recently posted this youtube video in support of American troops in Iraq.

Related:

Rice Challenges Inhofe

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Sen. Coburn: "The Problem In Washington Is Not Lobbyists, But Members of Congress

July 31, 2007

Senator Coburn:

“Rather than opening the secret chambers of government to the public, this new Congress has opted to change the locks. This bill, which was negotiated in secret, guts key earmark reforms that both houses of Congress approved overwhelmingly. Unfortunately, this process shows that Congress’s 28 percent approval rating is well-deserved. (Chart below from Sen. Coburn)

“The problem in Washington is not lobbyists, but members of Congress. This bill solves the wrong problem and creates new ways to hide earmarks. For example, it is ludicrous to give the Majority Leader of either party, not the objective Senate parliamentarian, new unilateral powers to police earmarks. It is also obscene that the Senate gutted a key reform preventing senators from directing earmarks to family members. The new language mirrors existing Senate rules which have done nothing to prevent these serious conflicts of interest.

“In the last election, the American people said they wanted the earmark favor factory to be shut down, not turned over to new management [emphasis added mine]. As our Republican majority learned, breaking promises has consequences. Congress first broke its promise to impose an earmark moratorium by offering 32,000 earmarks. Now Congress has signaled its determination to continue the secretive earmark favor factory.”

Related:

The Hill: “Dems unveil ethics plan” (Comments by Sen. Coburn)

Ernest Istook: “Congressional Spending: Past Abuse Is No Excuse for Today’s Excess”

President Conrad: A Liberal Solution to Nomination Gridlock.

July 31, 2007

By Ernest Istook

That’s the message from key senators who seem determined to oppose any Bush appointee who won’t promise to toe the liberal line.

It’s tough enough to get Senate approval of judges who aren’t card-carrying members of the ACLU. Now, it seems, the Senate will balk at blessing the president’s pick for budget director unless the nominee promises upfront to rubber stamp whatever spending spree liberal congressional leaders care to indulge in. Read more…

Rep. Cole On YouTube Debates

July 31, 2007

NRCC Chairman Tom Cole spoke with Ed Morrissey on BlogTalkRadio on July 30, 2007 about the YouTube debate.

Related:

National Journal: “GOP Campaign Chief Touts YouTube Debate”

Taking Our Money

July 30, 2007

I have long been an unabashed critic of the enormous influence wielded by lobbyists over government spending. My observations made during my first year in office have absolutely confirmed the validity of my concerns.

It is only common sense that the large size of government attracts a well funded group of special interests who want to buy their own corner of influence and profit off of the taxpayer. Probably the most disturbing trend that I have noted has been the number of government entities that lobby the legislature for money.

In other words, a public entity, which is funded by the taxpayers, takes taxpayer money which they will no doubt claim is desperately needed to provide vital services and instead spend it on a lobbyist, or number of lobbyists, and marketing materials. All of this spending is targeted at winning even more taxpayer money, some of which can be invested into the next year’s lobbying efforts, making the public entity even more effective in taking more of the taxpayers’ hard earned funds. The lobbyists may have access to a large expense account that can be drawn on to flood legislators with gifts and entertainment. Thus, they are extremely effective at swaying legislative opinion as they have constant access to legislators while the average taxpayer has little access since he or she is busy with the day to day responsibilities faced by the average citizen in the real world outside the capitol.

Last week controversy broke out when it was claimed that the executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League (OML) failed to notify his governing board that he had authorized a $48,000-a-year lobbying contract with the a prominent capitol lobbyist.

As you may be aware the OML represents municipal governments. When you pay your sales tax by buying an item at the store part of that tax goes to city government. Your city government uses that money to pay membership dues in the OML. The OML can use the money to buy the best lobbyist to insure the legislature makes laws that favor city governments. Government has actually gotten so big that one arm of government is taxing us to pay lobbyists to lobby another arm of government.

Worse yet, the OML actually has eight people registered to lobby for them.

OML has also entered into an agreement calling for the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) to pay the OML $49,500 a year. In exchange, OML agrees to distribute the Grand River Dam Authority’s promotional materials to its members and cooperate in securing the support of other entities of state government for GRDA’s programs.

The Grand River Dam Authority is also a wing of of government as it is quasi-state agency/trust that oversees hydroelectric power generation in northeastern Oklahoma.

Putting this as simply as possible, one government entity (the GRDA) is paying a collective of government entities (the OML) a fee to promote its interests. The OML is in turn investing a significant amount of money in lobbying a third government entity (the state legislature). Much if not all of this activity is financed by you and me, the taxpayers. This is enabled by years of expansion in the size of the various government entities.

Today it is the challenge of the current legislature to prevent this type of abuse by rolling back the level of taxation. Once the amount of money collected by the government is reduced the pressure will begin to take it’s toll on the recipients of the government largess. This year the legislature took another small step towards this goal by accelerating cuts in the state income tax. I remain committed to continuing the push for reform by advocating for the complete elimination of the state income tax. I believe this important reform will not only provide for prosperity for Oklahomans but will be an important step towards closing down inappropriate spending.

Liberal Foshee Using Union Buddies to Remove Opponent’s Yard Signs?

July 29, 2007

We received a tip from a reader recently regarding the removal and return of political yard signs from his lawn. The reader recounts the story:

“As I was pulling into my garage one afternoon, I saw a guy messing with my yard signs. He claimed he was with the OKC planning commission and was instructed to take down signs out of some people’s yards because they were in the city’s easement. I asked the gentleman where was the easement and he replied “about fifteen feet from the curb.” Mind you, I live in a residential housing addition, not on a major street.

I told him I had never heard of the city taking or moving signs out of people’s yards. The guy rudely interrupts me and says he was just doing his job and that if he “sees it again he will do again.” After I complained to the planning commission, I woke up the next morning to find all of my previously taken signs stacked on my driveway. This makes me wonder if Foshee has got some of his union goons doing his bidding?”

Foshee’s campaign still must not be doing well if he is resorting to dirty tricks this early.

Liberal Foshee Using Union Buddies to Remove Opponent’s Yard Signs?

July 29, 2007

We received a tip from a reader recently regarding the removal and return of political yard signs from his lawn. The reader recounts the story:

“As I was pulling into my garage one afternoon, I saw a guy messing with my yard signs. He claimed he was with the OKC planning commission and was instructed to take down signs out of some people’s yards because they were in the city’s easement. I asked the gentleman where was the easement and he replied “about fifteen feet from the curb.” Mind you, I live in a residential housing addition, not on a major street.

I told him I had never heard of the city taking or moving signs out of people’s yards. The guy rudely interrupts me and says he was just doing his job and that if he “sees it again he will do again.” After I complained to the planning commission, I woke up the next morning to find all of my previously taken signs stacked on my driveway. This makes me wonder if Foshee has got some of his union goons doing his bidding?”

Foshee’s campaign still must not be doing well if he is resorting to dirty tricks this early.

Anatomy of a Scandal

July 29, 2007

By Gary Jones
OKGOP Chairman

1) Larry Witt and Steve Phipps conspired to funnel corporate contributions into the 2002 State Auditor campaign of Jeff McMahan. FBI affidavits and witnesses have testified that such money was paid to them for the purpose making said contributions. Estimated totals range from $75,000-$100,000. These funds made up a large portion of McMahan’s total contributions and had a significant impact on the election results.

2) Steve Phipps met on numerous occasions in the office of the State Auditor with legislators including Mike Mass to discuss and arrange for state funds to be funneled into a scam non-profit foundation, Rural Development Foundation, located in an abstract company owned by Phipps and Gene Stripe in Antlers, Oklahoma. Both Mass and Phipps have pleaded guilty to federal charges and are now waiting sentencing to connection to the scheme.

3) After denying for months McMahan admitted to going on fishing and gambling trips paid for by Phipps. Such trips would constitute something of value received by an individual regulated by McMahan and his office and may be grounds for removal from office.

4) Duane Smith from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board has reported that he was called into a meeting with the State Auditor Jeff McMahan, Mike Mass and Steve Phipps. During the meeting Smith said he was advised that Mass had put wording in the agency appropriation bill to funnel funds to a trust authority setup by Phipps to aid in selling water from Lake Eufaula. McMahan advised Smith to help get that done and he would make the audit look clean. In 2006 McMahan asked the governor to perform an audit on OFRW. The audit failed to reveal the connection between McMahan and Phipps the principle person being audited and also failed to disclose items which should have been reported and in effect provided the cover-up McMahan had promised.

5) Larry Witt (Ry-son Oil) is seeking to purchase shares in several abstract companies owned by Steve Phipps. The sale of Phipps’ shares can not take place without approval of Jeff McMahan, State Auditor.

6) Witt was named in the university housing bond scandal involving Senate president Pro-Temp Mike Morgan. Morgan is also said to responsible for funneling state funds to but Stipe and Phipps’ train that is sitting and rusting in Guthrie.

Jeff McMahan and his office should be removed from the approval process as there exist a clear conflict of interest by McMahan in this matter.

A cause of action should be filed against Phipps, Stipe and Witt to recover state funds illegally obtained. The corporate assets of Phipps Enterprises and Corporate Finance Group should be frozen until such action has been litigated.

Related:

ObserverBlog: “The Education of Jeff McMahan”

Rep. Reynolds Believes Corporation Commissioner’s Campaign Contributions to Attorney General Violated State Law

July 29, 2007

Further proof that Drew Edmondson thinks he’s above the law?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Mike Reynolds
Capitol: (405) 557-7337

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 27, 2007) – It appears newly appointed Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth has violated state law by giving illegal campaign contributions to Attorney General Drew Edmondson, state Representative Mike Reynolds said today.

“While reviewing Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s recent letter to the Ethics Commission admitting to being an illegal conduit for political contributions I discovered that not only did he give illegal contributions but he received them as well,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.

“The issue at hand is two different contributions given from the campaign account of County Commissioner Jim Roth to the campaign account of Drew Edmondson. After careful scrutiny of the ethics rules, applicable statutes and discussions with officials in the State Ethics Commission, I believe Roth’s contributions violated state law.”

Reynolds has routinely been a watchdog over various filings at the Ethics Commission and is recognized as an expert in ethics database issues.

The contributions in question were given in October 2005 and May 2006. Both contributions were recorded in Edmondson’s reports as being from the Jim Roth for County Commissioner campaign committee.

“Under normal circumstances I would have gone to the Attorney General and asked for an investigation into the matter since it included highly placed public officials, but I obviously was not going to ask the A.G. to investigate himself,” Reynolds said.

The South Oklahoma City lawmaker also noted that he could not find any reference to the contributions in Roth’s ethics reports.

“I hope Commissioner Roth was not attempting to hide these contributions because he did not list them on line 16a of his County Commissioner ethics report which is also required by law,” Reynolds said.

Rep. Reynolds Believes Corporation Commissioner’s Campaign Contributions to Attorney General Violated State Law

July 29, 2007

Further proof that Drew Edmondson thinks he’s above the law?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Mike Reynolds
Capitol: (405) 557-7337

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 27, 2007) – It appears newly appointed Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth has violated state law by giving illegal campaign contributions to Attorney General Drew Edmondson, state Representative Mike Reynolds said today.

“While reviewing Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s recent letter to the Ethics Commission admitting to being an illegal conduit for political contributions I discovered that not only did he give illegal contributions but he received them as well,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.

“The issue at hand is two different contributions given from the campaign account of County Commissioner Jim Roth to the campaign account of Drew Edmondson. After careful scrutiny of the ethics rules, applicable statutes and discussions with officials in the State Ethics Commission, I believe Roth’s contributions violated state law.”

Reynolds has routinely been a watchdog over various filings at the Ethics Commission and is recognized as an expert in ethics database issues.

The contributions in question were given in October 2005 and May 2006. Both contributions were recorded in Edmondson’s reports as being from the Jim Roth for County Commissioner campaign committee.

“Under normal circumstances I would have gone to the Attorney General and asked for an investigation into the matter since it included highly placed public officials, but I obviously was not going to ask the A.G. to investigate himself,” Reynolds said.

The South Oklahoma City lawmaker also noted that he could not find any reference to the contributions in Roth’s ethics reports.

“I hope Commissioner Roth was not attempting to hide these contributions because he did not list them on line 16a of his County Commissioner ethics report which is also required by law,” Reynolds said.