Archive for the ‘OCPAC’ Category

Charlie Meadows on "The Machine"

February 1, 2008

By Charlie Meadows

All of what I am about to say are just my opinions. It will be up to the reader to determine as to whether or not there is any enlightenment behind my opinions.

Prior to 3 years ago, when Todd Hiett and Lance Cargill were in the House as a part of the minority party, they put together a strategy and a method to become the majority party in the House. I will call what they put together, “the machine.” They were successful in their efforts and Oklahoma is better off for it. However, not all is well.

In a stream lined attempt, let me try to explain it like this. They began to work with a clever and crafty political consultant. Working in conjunction with him, they created one or more PACs to raise substantial amounts of money for candidate campaigns. Working in conjunction with leadership, this consultant had early inside information as to possible candidates for House seats as most potential candidates visit with leadership before they make their decisions to run. In addition, the consultant would go into districts looking for “politically attractive candidates” (people who had financial means and lots of connections within a district). The conservative credentials of these candidates might well take a back seat when compared to their elect ability.

Once secured as clients, those candidates handled by that consultant needed to be able to bring enough money to the table to pay the consultant’s very stout consulting fees as well as have enough to win the primary. Often times, the candidate would be tapped out following the primary, having put all of the personal money into the race they were willing to invest. In addition, they had by that time raised most of the money they would be able to from family and friends.

At that time the consultant would bring the leadership’s PAC money to the candidate and perhaps help them raise money from contacts the candidate had not known prior to winning the primary election. If the candidate went on the win in November against the Democrat, often times the candidate would believe, without the help from leadership’s PAC’s they might never have had a chance to win in November against their Democrat challenger. Thus an affinity toward leadership develops.

In addition to this natural affinity based on financial help, the House leadership is also able to assign one of their loyal lieutenants to be a mentor to one of the newly elected clients of the consultant. This also occurs even with newly elected lawmakers that weren’t clients of the consultant. On top of that, with leadership’s ability to assign members to particular committees as well as chairmanship positions, this “machine” produces quite a power structure.

Nothing wrong with what has just been described so far. However, the potential for pressure to be loyal to the agenda of leadership is quite strong. The question is, what occurs when a house member might be seen as dis-loyal? If they vote their conscience or their constituents desire for them to vote in opposition to the agenda of leadership? In that case the question is, who will the house member represent, the leader or the people who elected them?

I will defend the machine to this extent. If there isn’t enough cohesion among Republicans while they are in the majority, they run the risk of the liberal Democrats setting the agenda as the minority party.

Of course the real QUESTION which comes with a power structure such as this is, what is the agenda of leadership with all that power? Is it a conservative, moderate or even a liberal agenda? Could it be a mixture of all three? Perhaps the even bigger QUESTION is, what kind of government will we have if the agenda of leadership is to deliver for the real power structure in the state, those various wealthy and powerful special interest groups? Read more…

Charlie Meadows is the Chairman of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC)

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