Archive for May, 2008

Aspen Institute’s “Ghost Commissioner” Says He’s Running. Is It a Negotiating Ploy?

May 31, 2008
As OKPNS predicted, the intrigue regarding the corporation commission races is exploding as Monday’s three-day filing period approaches.

The Aspen Institute’s candidate, incumbent Jeff Cloud, is upping the ante today with an announcement that he is going to file for re-election for the full six-year seat. That has left Chesapeake’s favorite, Jim Roth, scrambling for a deal.

It is common knowledge that Cloud is squatting on the seat in which Chesapeake wants to place Roth. The lethargic Cloud is being wooed by “interested parties” in the private sector so that Roth, who is perceived to be a much brighter and energetic commissioner, can move to the full six-year term.

Today’s announcement gives Cloud leverage to negotiate a better salary, but at least one corporation commission insider says all the scenarios floated by pundits and even OKPNS have got it all wrong for one reason: Cloud’s penchant for slothfulness. “This man has the worst work ethic imaginable. Cloud arrives late, leaves early, have long breakfasts at Classen Grill, and jogs with his dog in the early afternoon. He consistently embarrasses his assistants with his ability to disappear when work beckons and he’s not real quick on the uptake even on the rare occasions when he actually is in the office. The fact is, Cloud wants Denise Bode pay for ghost commissioner work, and nobody wants to pay for that.”

So Cloud may have decided that short hours with little accountability are more important than big bucks with responsibility. But issuing a press release on Friday is a telltale sign that something fishy is going on: it is standard political operating procedure to issue bad news on Friday, and put good news out early in the week. Or perhaps in keeping in character, Cloud was just running behind schedule for his release.

If Cloud is running for real, what becomes of Roth? We know the Roth folks didn’t anticipate Cloud staying in, and reports are they’re freaked out. But this we know: if Roth files against Cloud, it means Cloud has cut a deal, with Cloud dropping out AFTER filing is over. Cloud would remain in the race until after filing to keep Dana Murphy and/or Rob Johnson from following Roth to the six year seat. But if Roth files for the two-year seat, it means Cloud really is staying, unless someone new emerges to take him on.


Video: Murphey Legislative Update (June 2008)

May 30, 2008

UPDATE: First Amendment Think Tank Misreads Bill; Sends Out Erroneous Press Release

May 30, 2008

We have an update to a story we posted yesterday from The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) which supposedly highlighted serious First Amendment concerns with H.B. 2196, the “Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act of 2008. The group sent a letter to Governor Brad Henry yesterday expressing their Constitutional concerns with the pending legislation awaiting Henry’s signature.

KTOK Capitol reporter Peter Ruddy provides us with a correction:

As heard on KTOK radio, this group has it all wrong.

They were looking at Senate amendments to the bill, not the enrolled version that is on the governor’s desk.

The House rejected those Senate amendments and sent the bill to a conference committee. In that committee, the bill was changed so that the only thing it deals with is contributions to lawmakers or canidates for the legislature by lobbyists during the session and five days afterwards.

I talked with the spokesman for the Center for Competitive Politics and he was not aware the bill had been changed.

You can see for yourself by going to http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.u…tatus/ main.html and reading the nerolled version of the bill which is on the governor’s desk.

Or you can take the word of someone in Washington who puts out a press release.

Your choice.

Peter J. Rudy

KTOK Radio

State Capitol reporter

Cong. Edwards Responds to OKPNS

May 30, 2008

By Hon. Mickey Edwards

I suppose if one is going to screw up, it’s best to make it a real doozy. As OKPNS did with its really strange blog about Jeff Cloud — a blog that somehow managed to get absolutely nothing right.

According to OKPNS, Jeff Cloud is a member of an ultra-liberal Aspen Institute, which, also according to OKPNS, is a front for left-wing financier George Soros.

Actually, not to let facts get in the way, but George Soros is not connected in any way, directly or indirectly, or even remotely, to the Aspen Institute. The Institute is not only not liberal but is studiously, and carefully, non-partisan and non-ideological. that is, in fact, its essence.

Jeff (just a minor mistake)is not a member of the institute. That’s because the Institute has no members. Rather he was selected to be a part of a program for outstanding young elected officials which is run by Aspen Institute Vice President Mickey Edwards, a former member of the Republican leadership in Congress, a former national chairman of the American Conservative Union, Chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a founder of the Heritage Foundation, and Director of Policy Task Forces for Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign. Participants in the program are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, including, by the way, some very conservative Republicans. Among the people whose works they study when they come together are Milton Friedman, John Locke, and James Madison. Oh, and Ronald Reagan. Now that would be a strange thing for George Soros to be supporting, don’t you think?

Walter Isaacson, who by the way is not a liberal (OKPNS got that wrong, too), is president of the Institute (that was right), and its board members include people like Newt Gingrich’s close friend and ally Vin Weber, a former conservative congressman who is one of George W. Bush’s closest advisers (and helped manage Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign), and Robert Steel, one of the top officials in George W. Bush’s Labor Department. At least 25 prominent Republicans are members of the advisory committee for the program in which Jeff participates, including Ralph Reed, former director of the Christian Coalition, and former conservative congressman and Reagan ally Jack Kemp.

I haven’t checked to see whether the date at the top of the blog was accurate; if it was, it was the only thing in the blog that was.

Mickey Edwards

Mickey Edwards, a lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, was a Republican member of Congress from Oklahoma for 16 years (1977-92). He was a member of the House Republican leadership and served on the House Budget and Appropriations committees. Since leaving the Congress he has taught at Harvard, Georgetown, and Princeton universities and has chaired various task forces for the Constitution Project, the Brookings Institution, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition, he is currently an advisor to the US Department of State and a member of the Princeton Project on National Security. His book, Reclaiming Conservatism (Oxford University Press), comes out in March 2008.

First Amendment Think Tank: "Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act" Poses Serious First Amendment Concerns

May 29, 2008

Oklahoma Bloggers Beware!

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) highlighted serious First Amendment concerns in H.B. 2196, the “Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act of 2008,” in a letter the educational group sent today to Governor Brad Henry. The bill would make it a crime for any person to intentionally participate in the dissemination of false political advertising. The engrossed bill currently awaits the governor’s signature or veto.

CCP is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to protect the First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly and petition. If enacted, the bill “would place a chill upon political speakers of all varieties and undermine the robust nature of political debate in Oklahoma,” writes CCP president Sean Parnell in the letter to the governor. While truth in political speech is important, the specific provisions of the bill, “puts the government in the position of determining what constitutes ‘truth’ in an arena where what is ‘truth’ is itself often the focus of fierce debate,” Parnell counsels.

The bill relies on a vague standard that “allows the State to determine the ‘truth’ of any communication that relates to the ‘character, voting record or acts of the candidate,'” Parnell continues. “Statements about the ‘character’ of a candidate are more opinion than fact; they are characterizations. A governmental system that determines the ‘truth’ of a characterization, under penalty of law, is a standard so vague and overbroad that to enforce it would chill speech of every variety.”

Parnell notes that in an opinion overturning a similarly crafted Washington state law last year the Washington State Supreme Court wrote, “the notion that the government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment.”

“As the Supreme Court of Washington aptly put it, a provision like the Oklahoma proposal ‘naively assumes that the government is capable of correctly and consistently negotiating the thin line between fact and opinion in political speech,'” Parnell concludes.

EXCLUSIVE: Commissioner Jim Roth Arrested for DUI in ’95; Resolution of Case a Mystery

May 29, 2008

Monday June 2nd begins Oklahoma’s filing period for elective offices, and thanks to the proliferation of blogs, Oklahomans will have more information about candidates than ever before.

Some of the information will be items that the old and slow media, dogged by conflicts of interest from their wealthy owners, simply will not share with their readers, listeners and viewers. Some information will get altered, due to people like Mike Turpen, who tried to kill an extraordinary, and true, story that was damaging to his buddy Drew Edmondson. Some information is tainted, as exemplified by Turpen continually pimping his clients, without disclosing that fact to his viewers on the formerly respected political affairs show Flashpoint.

Further, with the slow and lazy Oklahoma media, the last minute dirty trick has become standard operating procedure. Responses through traditional media seldom are successful. Sometimes the press makes value judgments that a particular claim is in fact a dirty trick when it is not: the press erred when it did not take seriously Gary Jones’ campaign claims about disgraced Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan. The press didn’t do its job, and the voters did not have the information they deserved before they re-elected McMahan. Some watchdog, huh?

But there’s also the clever tactic some candidates use when, in the rare occasions the press actually does their job and uncovers real character issues, to denigrate the information by actually employing the ‘victim’ mode: “they’re throwing mud,”as the saying goes.

At OKPNS, we think open and vigorous discussion is what the votes deserve. After yesterday’s revelations about Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud’s ties to the George Soro’s radical-left Aspen Institute, it seems another issue that could dog corporation commission elections is beginning surfacing.

OKPNS has obtained a copy of an arrest report that is being circulated. Commissioner Roth was arrested December 12, 1995 after 2 AM in a section of town known for its gay nightlife. Roth was arrested for DUI and following too closely. He refused the arresting officer’s request for the “implied consent request,” most likely a blood or breathalyzer test, and he was accompanied by Joe Mark Elkouri, a special municipal judge, who according to the arresting officer’s report, appears to bargain with the officers to make the officer “forget this happened.” The officer refused, and called in a supervising official. Elkouri died less than a year later after what the paper referred to as a lengthy illness.

It should be noted that the report by the arresting officer is in a public document that represents the officer’s opinion that Roth was intoxicated. There are no attachments to the documents detailing how the case was adjudicated, and there is no indication from the report that Roth was involved in the effort to make the officer “forget this happened.”

Excerpt from the police report. (Click here, here, and here to read entire report. Click on image to enlarge)

“(Elkouri) then stated to this officer, “There must be something I can do to make you forget this happened.” I informed(Elkouri) that there was nothing he could do and that (Roth) was under arrest for DUI. (Elkouri) continued to state that he was a special judge and that (Roth) should not be arrested.”

Undoubtedly, this document would have surfaced in the late hours of either the primary or general election. Now it’s out in the open, regardless, the public will, and Roth’s opponents, will demand an explanation for his behavior.

Some will say the incident, which happened in December 1995, is unfair to Roth because it was so long ago. That’s non-sense. It’s been nearly 40 years since Chappaquiddick, and Sen. Kennedy is yet to come clean. George W. Bush was hit with a DUI revelation less than 48 hours before the 2000 election. There were no Democrats screaming foul on that night. The public deserves to know, and Roth deserves time to make that explanation.


Wilson Research Strategies May National Political Environment Assessment.

May 29, 2008

Wilson Research Strategies recently released its May 2008 edition of the National Political Environment Assessment. This edition analyzes this fall’s match up between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain. Here are a few quotes from the report:

“Despite reports in the press about the “revolutionary” status of Barack Obama, current data points to an election that could look much like 2000 and 2004.”

“Compounding the problem with nationalizing an election is the fact that independent voters have not gotten the message they’re supposed to dislike Obama. In fact, Obama’s standing with independents is almost as strong with Democrats.”

“McCain and Republicans continue to enjoy a significant advantage with voters on trust and to handle terrorism. Obama has gained since February.”

DSCC Video: Andrew Rice: Why I’m Running

May 29, 2008

In this latest Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee propaganda video, aspiring U.S. senator Andrew Rice, gives his reasons why he’s embarked upon his suicide mission against Senator Inhofe.

If you don’t have the time to watch the entire minute and a half video, we’ll save you a little time and give you the Cliff Notes version. First 30 seconds, Rice is riding in a car talking about losing his brother on 9/11. The next ten seconds, a Democrat activist is surprised that Rice remembers his name. From what we can surmise in the short segment, the activist is going to vote for Rice because he’s a “friendly and likeable guy.” (Glad he didn’t let issues get in the way)

The last 50 seconds, Rice is speaking with another gentleman about – losing his brother in the World Trade Center on 9/11. And we thought only Republicans used 9/11 for political advantage?

Oklahoma Independents Want More Candidates on the Ballot

May 29, 2008

The Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES) wants all Oklahomans to know about the three days when they can file to run for office at the state Capitol: June 2nd to 4th. OKIES is hoping to bring more accountability to incumbents’ actions and by encouraging Oklahomans to run for political office, whatever their party affiliation.

From their press release:

The democratic process in Oklahoma is suffering. Over half of state legislative races went unopposed in 2006. So the names of most incumbents never even showed up on a ballot, yet they still “represent” the people of their district.”

Clark Duffe, OKIES Chairman, said, “Campaigning for office is a great way to get out your message and affect your community.” All that is required is having been registered with the same party affiliation for six months in your district and a $200 filing fee for most offices. Qualifications to run and a list of offices to be filled are available from the Oklahoma State Election Board.

James M. Branum, Secretary of the Oklahoma Green Party, said, “Since Oklahoma’s ballot access laws kept me from being on the ballot as a Green, I ran as an Independent for state house in 2006. It was a empowering experience. I got to speak at several candidate forums and connect with my neighbors on the campaign trail, and in the end even got to see some of my ideas be adopted by the candidate who beat me. I recommend all registered Independents to consider running, because otherwise our voice won’t be heard.”

Richard Prawdzienski, past Independent candidate for State House 39, addressed concerns about the possibility of someone winning against a candidate of an established party. “If a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Oklahoma can be elected mayor in Muskogee, imagine what anyone can do.”

Jacqueline Salit, founder and political director of the national organization, Committee for a Unified Independent Party, commented, “With 70% of Americans saying that the country is on the wrong track, the problem is not just that our policies have gone wrong. It’s that our political process isn’t working. That’s a big reason why so many people are becoming independents and why independents feel that we’ve got to change the way our political system works. It’s really a rebellion against the “divine right” of the major parties. Running for office with a message about the need for independent reform is a way to bring that challenge to a next step.”

The Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES) seeks to expand voter choice by reducing the number of unopposed races for elected office in Oklahoma. OKIES also supports structural reforms that will engage more potential voters in the political process, such as ballot access reform and redistricting reform.

Profile of “Nick’s Law” Opponent Reveals True Intentions

May 29, 2008

NOTE: Approximately 12 minutes after the following news release was issued, Rep. Ron Peterson issued a news release announcing he will not seek re-election. You may see that release by pointing your browser to:

A “puff-piece” profile of the lawmaker leading the fight against “Nick’s Law,” the autism insurance bill, reveals his true intentions, according to Senator Jay Paul Gumm.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) distributed a profile of Rep. Ron Peterson, R-Broken Arrow. The profile lauds the lawmaker’s “courage” for blocking even consideration of Nick’s Law when it arrived in the House of Representatives, noting Peterson’s defense of “free enterprise.”

“There is nothing courageous about turning your back on children who have no voice,” said Gumm, who wrote Nick’s Law. “Praising Rep. Peterson’s stand against Nick’s Law for its ‘free enterprise’ implications is the moral equivalent of praising an abortionist who destroys life just to make a buck. This is a lame defense of an unconscionable stand.”

Despite differences between the lawmakers, Gumm said he “believed in his heart Rep. Peterson was sincere” in saying he might consider the measure upon completion of an “independent” actuarial study.

“The puff-piece – inadvertently, I would suspect – pulls the curtain back and lets us see the ‘wizard’ for what his intentions truly are,” Gumm said. “Clearly, Rep. Peterson and those in the insurance industry to whom he is beholden will never allow Nick’s Law to be heard. The profile is a puff-piece that hits families with autistic children like a sledgehammer.”

A paragraph in the profile quotes Peterson as he belittles treatment of autistic children and implies these children are hopeless, Gumm related. “He apparently thinks autistic children are throwaway, a lost cause,” he said.

Peterson said in the profile that the treatment that would be covered by Nick’s Law is clinically unproven.

“The medical profession has stated there’s no reason to believe behavioral therapy is any more effective than anything else,” Peterson said. “The results are described as marginal in any case, and these individuals will be wards of the state in any case. So you’d have the cost without any benefit, as best we can see.”

Gumm said he was shocked at the impudence of the statement. “With one paragraph, Rep. Peterson tells every parent of every autistic child that their child is not worth saving, not worth even trying to save,” he said. “I cannot imagine anyone taking so cavalier attitude toward life; it truly is fear-provoking.”

Trying to save children from an adult life as wards of the state and giving their families some hope are the key purposes behind Nick’s Law, Gumm related. “Aside from the distastefulness of an elected official apparently considering the most vulnerable among us as throwaway, let’s look at the financial end of it,” he said.

“These ‘wards of the state’ will cost untold millions in taxpayer dollars. Instead of expecting health insurance to do what families pay premiums for and help these children, Rep. Peterson is content to pass the eventual bill to taxpayers. In the meantime, his so-called ‘courage’ is keeping children locked behind the walls of autism. He is wrong on both counts.”

Oklahomans will have to assert the political power they have, guaranteed in the state Constitution, to end insurance discrimination against autistic children. To that end, parents pressing for autism insurance coverage have vowed to continue the fight – over the next eight months and back at the Capitol during the 2009 legislative session.

Gumm said the parents are the ones showing real courage. “If OCPA, or anyone else for that matter, wants to see real courage, simply look into the eyes of these parents,” he said.

“Real courage is speaking truth to powerful interests; real courage is never giving up on your children. These families have shown unwavering strength in the face of antipathy and outright hostility. There cause is righteous, and it is my honor to stand alongside them, come what may.”