Friday, April 26, 2013

OKDHS Director responds to newborn death story



Two days ago, I posted an article by blogger/activist Steve Dickson about the death of a newborn in DHS custody. This evening, OKDHS Director Ed Lake issued a statement from detailing the story from OKDHS' perspective, which I am posting in full below.

 Ed Lake, OKDHS Director

"Recent outrageous blog posts circulating on social media are falsely and recklessly claiming that the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) removed a baby from life support against the mother's wishes. This is absolutely untrue and is an example of extremist bloggers not bothering to obtain factual information and twisting the misinformation for some political agenda. We have determined, in the interest of public faith and trust, to respond to these absurd claims in a manner that protects the identities of those involved."

"The situation in which these blogs are referencing was that of an infant in OKDHS custody who was born with extremely serious physical abnormalities and who had surgery to try to correct the conditions. The child was subsequently placed on life support and doctors did not expect the child to survive. A conference was held with the presiding judge, the district attorney, the child's biological mother and her attorney, the child's foster mother, two physicians treating the child, and an OKDHS supervisor."

"The judge and the child's mother both agreed to a "Do Not Resuscitate Order" (DNR) for the child if the action was determined medically necessary. OKDHS remained silent during this conference and made no recommendation, following the agency's DNR policy. The Judge also authorized the physician treating the child to do whatever was medically necessary and in the best interest of the child. The actions of OKDHS employees and hospital staff in this case complied with Oklahoma and federal laws, as well as the judge's decisions and orders. All of these actions were recorded by a court reporter who was present at the hearing in the judge's chambers."

"The child's physician later determined the child needed to be taken off life support due to ongoing uncontrolled internal bleeding. The child's biological mother was taken to the hospital, signed the DNR order along with the attending physician, and personally consented to her child being taken off life support. The mother remained with her child until the child passed away."

"We were all extremely saddened by this child's death and worked to support the child's mother and foster mother throughout this emotional decision."

"The individual who posted the despicable blog should be ashamed of himself."

# # #

If there are any more updates to the story, I will post them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tragic: OKDHS takes custody of newborn, pulls life support


A Choice of Life or Death

This is a true story.

My wife has spent many years volunteering in various causes, most of them related to the Pro-Life movement. One of the organizations she volunteers for operates a group home for women in crisis pregnancy situations. This home specifically helps pregnant homeless women get through pregnancy in a stable and safe environment. They are able to have their babies, and given the time and resources to get back on their feet. This includes staying in the home for several months after their baby is born.

Yesterday, a tragedy beyond the comprehension of most parents occurred. One of the women my wife has been helping gave birth to a baby boy last week. He was full term, and was full size, but he had some heart issues. As a result, he needed surgery. After he had his surgery he made it through the weekend. His poor little body was battered by the trauma of such an event, but alive and improving. His mother was hopeful – until the state stepped in.

Previously the mother of this new boy had lost custody of her other child. In Oklahoma domestic violence can be grounds for removal of children, even from the custody of the victim. Since the mother in this case had not regained custody of her two year old – that is due to happen later this summer – someone with the Department of Human Services decided to take custody of the baby while he was in neonatal intensive care. This was done despite the child being in a secured environment both in the hospital and in the group home he where mother and child would recover. By doing so, medical decisions were removed from the mother and given to bureaucrats.

In the afternoon of April 22nd, a worker with DHS decided to intervene, consulted a “judge” and instigated an emergency hearing to decide the fate of this little baby boy. The mother was forced to plead her case in the administrative judges’ chambers, with the hospital on speaker phone. Upon his decision, and over her objections, the baby was taken off of life support, drugs, ventilator, and pacemaker. This began while the mother was away from the hospital, and before she could even hold her child. She arrived back at the hospital shortly before the end. Her baby died at 5:38 pm.

If this story does not rip at your heart, nothing will. This is someone who was relying on private charity, attempting to rebuild her life, and life and death decisions about her child were taken from her by the state. There was no trial. There was no chance of appeal. Our government has taken it upon itself to “protect” the children, even when that means stripping parents of their rights, and making decisions that may kill those very children. In this case, it did.

I don’t know the answer to all of this. I know a tragedy has occurred. I know the state should not have the power to strip parental rights without a jury being involved. I know people are victimized by their government in the name of safety and protection, all the way down to a newborn in the hospital.

I know my heart is heavy for this mother and her children, and I will hold my family close tonight and pray for her.

Steve Dickson is a conservative activist in the Oklahoma City area, and writes a blog at this link.


* UPDATE *

The Director of OKDHS has issued a statement about this incident, which is posted here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

OKGOP 2013 State Convention


The Oklahoma Republican Party's 2013 State Convention activities commence tomorrow afternoon, with the convention itself starting at 9:00am Saturday morning. This will be my fifth convention as a delegate, and it looks to be as interesting as any of the recent editions.

Important information for delegates


I have conducted a survey of each of the candidates for State Chair and Vice-Chair, which can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Candidates for Chair 
in alphabetical order, with links to their websites
 Amanda Teegarden                     Dave Weston

Candidates for Vice-Chair
in alphabetical order, with links to their websites

                     Richard Engle                   Denise Crosswhite-Hader                         Sara Jo Odom


See you at the convention!

P.S. If you're on Twitter, tweet with hashtag #OKGOP, and follow me at @JamisonFaught.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

OCPAC's Charlie Meadows picks Weston for OKGOP Chair

Charlie Meadows, longtime chairman of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC), sent out the following email last night regarding the race for Oklahoma Republican Party chairman. An influential grassroots leader/activist, Meadows' analysis and concluding endorsement may end up impacting this race more than the endorsements the two candidates have touted so far in the race. I'll explain after his email below.

Charlie Meadows, OCPAC chairman

WHY I ENDORSE DAVID WESTON FOR REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN

First let me say, this is my own opinion and not a position of OCPAC, in fact OCPAC does not endorse for such a race. In addition, many of my friends and fellow conservatives will disagree with me; however, I believe that will be the result of strong personal relationships with Amanda Teegarden, rather than an evaluation of the 2 candidates for the job in which they are running. Therefore, please let me explain why I am picking my friend David over my friend Amanda.

When Amanda called me on Monday, April 1st to tell me she was going to run for the Republican State Chairman’s position and wanted to make the public announcement during the candidate forum at OCPAC 2 days later, I knew it was going to be a difficult situation for me. I have known both Amanda and David for about the same amount of time, consider both of them to be friends and respect both of them for their respective efforts to make Oklahoma a better place. Following the forum at OCPAC on Wednesday, I was determined to NOT make an endorsement for chairman and knew I would have to wrestle with a decision as how to vote at the state convention on April 20th.

However, I spent a good deal of Wednesday night tossing about the race and decided to lay my friendships aside and actually evaluate these two candidates. David has the greater amount of state party experience as he has served as the finance officer under 2 different state chairmen and thus really knows the workings of the state party. In addition he has also worked as a consultant in 2 high profile campaigns, first that of James Lankford and second, the race last year where Jim Bridenstine successfully unseated the incumbent John Sullivan and then went on to win big in the general election. Amanda is a co-founder and the executive director of OK-SAFE, she is also one of the finest researchers I know. I believe David has an advantage when it comes to administration and an ability to TRY and work with the many factions within the Republican party, whereas, Amanda’s strengths are more oriented toward policy. I believe the job of party chairman is about 80% administration and 20% policy.

While, I generally agree with Amanda on policy, this is the most important reason I gladly endorse David over Amanda. Please let me explain a possible way for others to evaluate these two candidates.

Last year we had 6 state questions on the ballot, I am going to discuss 3 of them and then ask you to ask yourself, how you voted on these 3 questions?  1) I supported the question which was designed to eliminate affirmative action policies in state government hiring practices and college admission standards in Oklahoma. Ask yourself how did you vote on that issue? Even though eliminating affirmative action has long been a part of the Republican party platform, Amanda opposed the question, basically because it wasn’t a perfect measure. 2) I supported the measure to reduce the annual amount property taxes could increase from the maximum of a 5% increase to no more than an increase of 3% (this does not apply to school bond increases). Ask yourself how did you stand on that issue, Amanda opposed the issue. 3)  I supported the question to eliminate all intangible property from being subjected to property taxation. That was a very important and strong pro business measure. Ask yourself if you supported that state question? Amanda opposed it.

Every Monday morning the Republican party state chairman is on the Ried Mullins radio show on KTOK 1000 AM as the voice of the Republican party doing debate with Ben Odom, the spokesman for the Democrat party. Had Amanda been our chairman at that time she would have been on radio agreeing with the Democrat positions and opposing our platform which has for a long time opposed affirmative action, opposed increasing taxes and in principle our platform supports tax cuts.

Amanda’s positions were different from those of our most conservative Republican lawmakers, different from the positions taken by David Weston, and vice chairman candidates, Richard Engle, Denise Crosswhite Hader and Sara Jo Odom (listed in alphabetic order), I know as I have polled all of them since our forum. Also, all 3 of these issues have been a part of the conservative index. In other words, Amanda was seriously out of step with the Republican party. As such, I believe she should not be elected as our state chairman, David is far better suited for the position as he will work better with the broad range of factions within the party and be more successful in raising finances. Amanda does a great job in research and I would strongly support her if she decided to run for a legislative seat. In that position, information she could provide to colleagues would far outweigh any time she might over analyze a few issues and take the wrong positions on such.
Charlie Meadows


Meadows is very influential in the conservative/libertarian circles of Oklahoma GOP grassroots activists. Amanda Teegarden appeals to much of the same group of activists. As a result, many of the delegates that would naturally form the core of support for Teegarden, but who are heavily influenced by Meadows and his widely-circulated email chain may now reconsider, and instead vote for Weston at this weekend's state convention.

I think Charlie pretty much hit the nail on the head with his evaluation, and I completely agree with him. I respect Amanda and her work with OK-SAFE (a great organization), and have had her come speak to groups in my area about different issues. She is a thorough researcher, and very knowledgeable about important topics of the day. That said, I don't think that being chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party fits her as well as it does Dave Weston, who has actual experience working in the state party.

Want to learn more about the candidates for OKGOP Chair and Vice-Chair? 
Click here for survey responses from each of the hopefuls!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Meet the Candidates: Amanda Teegarden, OKGOP Chair hopeful


Amanda Teegarden, candidate for Oklahoma Republican Party chairman


With this Saturday being the 2013 Oklahoma Republican Party State Convention, we continue our series on the individuals who have publicly announced their candidacy to replace outgoing Chairman Matt Pinnell and outgoing Vice-Chair Pam Pollard. Today, let's look at the responses from the last public candidate for Chair, Amanda Teegarden.

The other announced candidate is Dave Weston.  The candidates for vice-chair are Denise Crosswhite Hader (her survey is posted here), Richard Engle (his survey is posted here), and Sara Jo Odom (her survey is posted here). It is my hope that this series will enable delegates to the state convention to come to a decision on which candidates to support.

Now, meet Amanda Teegarden.

1. Tell us a little bit about your personal side (i.e. family, church, occupational
background, etc.)

Amanda Teegarden has lived in Oklahoma for the last 30 years and calls Tulsa home, where she lives with her husband Mark, and their family. She is happy to report she is expecting her first grandchild later this year.

Amanda is a pro-life, born-again Christian. She attends Heartland Church in Tulsa. Amanda is the Executive Director of OK-SAFE, Inc. (Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise), a 501(c) 4, a non-profit corporation formed in 2006. OK-SAFE is dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Free Enterprise system and the Constitutional Sovereignty of Oklahoma and the United States.

For several years Amanda has been the co-host of America in the Balance on Truth in Focus Internet radio. She is a frequent guest on national radio shows, speaking often at national conferences on issues of public policy and liberty.

With a background in business management, Amanda spent 16 years in Retail Management, and as a small business owner. When she became a stay-at-home mom she worked part time. She knows how to work with people and organize, as evidenced by the growth of effective grassroots efforts in OK over the last 8 years.

2. What involvement have you had in the past with the Republican Party (from precinct-
level to RNC)? If possible, include approximate dates.


Amanda is a life-long Republican and has been actively involved in numerous campaigns in Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District. Amanda has served several terms as Precinct Chair, a position she currently holds in Tulsa County. In the last 9 years she has served in various committees, including on the County and State Executive Committees, the County and State Platform and Rules Committees, and has been/and is a member
of several conservative GOP clubs.

3. Do you currently hold any Republican Party office?

In March Amanda was elected to the 1st District Committee.

4. What political involvement have you had outside of the Republican Party (i.e.
campaigns, elected office, political groups, etc.)? If possible, include approximate dates.

Amanda has helped in several campaigns in the Tulsa area – from three Mayor’s races; 1 House and 2 Senate District races (the latest being the successful 2012 campaign to elect Sen. Nathan Dahm to office, the state’s youngest Senator); and walking for the Bridenstine campaign in 2012.

5. There have been eight state conventions in the last decade; how many have you
attended (and which)?

I think every one since 2006 or 2007.

6. What prompted you to run for this office?

Teegarden was called by many supporters to consider running. It was a tough decision for her because last month she was elected as a member of the 1st District Committee. “After four days of prayer, thought and consultation,” she said, “I decided that I would accept the call and take on this new challenge.”

7. What are your top priorities if elected as vice-chair?

Amanda Teegarden is motivated by devotion to principle, implementation of conservative policy, and effective grassroots mobilization. “We can grow the Republican Party while still standing by our core principles. We can engage in coalition building, and work to educate the people of Oklahoma on the principles the Republican Party stands for. We can do this while pursuing candidates for office and financial support. Our efforts must include outreach and inclusion of more young people into the Republican Party, many of whom are anxious to be more involved in the pursuit of good government.”

On candidate recruitment, Teegarden says, “My years of activism on behalf of limiting the power of government have prepared me to recruit and promote candidates that stand for decentralized, state and local based power.”
8. What five issues should the Republican Party focus on politically?

Limited Government and Candidate Recruitment -
“My years of activism on behalf of limiting the power of government have prepared me to recruit and promote candidates that stand for decentralized, state and local based power. The ultimate authority is the individual – the authority that all government operates with is granted by individuals to the state, and by the states to the federal government. When you elect me, you will have an advocate for the individual leading your Republican Party”.

Transparency / Open Door Policy -
“The ultimate authority of the Republican Party is the precinct, and the authority of the precinct is the activist. As your State Chair, I will emphasize the Party is governed from the bottom up, not the top down. I will involve the various groups around the state who advocate issues in agreement with our platform, and make sure they have both a seat at the table and a voice in the debate. My years as Executive Director of OK-SAFE have shown me how effective activism is outside the Party – it is time to bring that energy inside.”

Platform -
“The core principles of the Republican Party are expressed in our Platform. Our public officials should be familiar with our Platform, and should be encouraged to stand up for it. As Chair I will work to remind them of what they espoused when they ran as a Republican – and what we expect them to do. We must restore the relevance of our Party and the label “Republican” in the eyes of the public.”

Policies -
“I am well known for my advocacy. I have studied the policies concerning most Oklahomans, including “Obama Care”, the chipping away of our 2nd Amendment rights, the adoption of the Common Core State Standard, and infringements on both individual liberty and property rights. These policies, and others like them, are a direct assault on our God-given rights to life, liberty, and property and are leading to the overgrowth of government and diminution of local control.

9. List some of the individuals who are publicly supporting your candidacy that delegates
might recognize.

The growing list of endorsements is featured on the Teegardenforokgop.com website, including that of Rep. (Pastor) Dan Fisher, Dan Keating, former Rep. Charles Key, 1st Dist. Committee Member Don Wyatt, State Committee Members TC Ryan and Joanna Francisco, OK2A, Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center, various grassroots groups leaders, County and Precinct Chairman, as well as the Tulsa Beacon newspaper.

10. Here's your closing statement - cover whatever you want to talk about.

The Republican Party has an opportunity before them – by acknowledging our Founding Principles and standing by them, we can become the party of choice for the people of Oklahoma.

“America is at an historic crossroads that will determine whether our grandchildren will enjoy the blessings of freedom or the curse of tyranny. Never has the need for principled, courageous state legislators, state, county and local officials, been so great to resist and roll back the power of the Federal government. As your next GOP State Chairman, I will work tirelessly to help make Oklahoma the model for the nation.”

Thanks for participating, Amanda!



And that concludes our survey of announced candidates for chair and vice-chair. Below are the links to each survey. I hope that this series has been informative, and will help delegates decide on which candidates to support for these crucial party offices.

Current candidates for OKGOP Chair:
Dave Weston -- survey here
Amanda Teegarden -- survey here

Current candidates for OKGOP Vice-Chair:
Denise Crosswhite Hader -- survey here
Sara Jo Odom -- survey here
Richard Engle -- survey here

Friday, April 12, 2013

Meet the Candidates: Sara Jo Odom, OKGOP Vice-Chair hopeful


Sara Jo Odom, candidate for Oklahoma Republican Party vice-chair

With the 2013 Oklahoma Republican Party State Convention coming up next weekend, we continue our series on the individuals who have publicly announced their candidacy to replace outgoing Chairman Matt Pinnell and outgoing Vice-Chair Pam Pollard. Today, let's look at the responses from the last public Vice-Chair candidate, Sara Jo Odom.

The other announced candidates are Denise Crosswhite Hader (her survey is posted here) and Richard Engle (his survey is posted here). For chairman, Dave Weston and Amanda Teegarden are the current candidates. You can view Weston's survey here; I still have not received a response from Teegarden.

Now, meet Sara Jo Odom.

1. Tell us a little bit about your personal side.
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, graduated Northwest Classen High School and The University of Oklahoma. Spent 30 years away from Oklahoma, living in several other states, 2 years in Germany, and 20 years in New Hampshire. Three grown children and six grandchildren. In 1997, I was blessed to be able to return to Oklahoma– definitely God’s Country! Registered Republican as soon as I was old enough to vote! Active member at Henderson Hills Baptist Church, Edmond.
2. What involvement have you had in the past with the Republican Party (from precinct-level to RNC)? If possible, include approximate dates.
  •  National Federation of Republican Women – Board of Directors – 7 years
  • Secretary; Legislative Chairman; Nominating Committee; Leadership Committee
  • Region 9 Director – Liaison with Republican Women in CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, RI and Washington, D.C.
  • Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women
  • Served as President for four years
  • Current member OKCRWC; Associate Member Heartland Republican Women & Edmond Republican Women
  • Oklahoma City Republican Women’s Club
  • Various officer positions and President for two years
  • Currently serving on Outreach Committee
  • Vice-Chairman – Oklahoma County GOP
  • OK GOP Executive Committee
  • Worked for Republicans in New Hampshire while living there, and have been an active volunteer for Republican candidates since moving back to Oklahoma
3. Do you currently hold any Republican Party office?
I am currently on the Executive Committee of the OK County GOP and received an award for volunteer work back in February. Current NFRW Secretary; Current Executive Committee -- Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women
4. What political involvement have you had outside of the Republican Party (i.e. campaigns, elected office, political groups, etc.)? If possible, include approximate dates.
Outside the Republican Party -- a member of Eagle Forum, Oklahoma; Americans for Prosperity; Concerned Women for America; -- all of these since 2006.
5. There have been eight state conventions in the last decade; how many have you attended (and which)?
I have attended all of the state conventions since 2003.  (I lived away from Oklahoma until my return in late 1997.)
6. What prompted you to run for this office?
I decided not to run for higher office of the National Federation of Republican Women, and that I should concentrate my volunteer work in Oklahoma.  I believe that my leadership experience is a good fit for this position.
7. What are your top priorities if elected as vice-chair?
 Top priorities: 
  • a)  To "keep the ball rolling" by continuing to register new Republicans, and target conservative Democrats and Independents to register Republican;
  • b) to immerse the Oklahoma Republican Party in any and all ways of communicating and training around the state, i.e., webinars, conference calls, live-streaming meetings, etc. and
  • c) hold countywide round-table discussions, inviting ANYONE who would like to become involved in our Party to participate.  Then, use the best of the ideas we receive and share them with all the counties.
8. What five issues should the Republican Party focus on politically?
  1. Decreasing the size of government
  2. Protecting our individual liberties
  3. Reducing taxes
  4. Immigration reform
  5. National Security.
9. List some of the individuals who are publicly supporting your candidacy that delegates might recognize.
Steve Fair, National Committeeman (Fair says he "has not taken a public position in the Vice Chair race"); Carolyn McLarty, National Committeewoman; Evelyn McCoy, President of the Oklahoma City Republican Women's Club; Sandra Leaver, President of Edmond Republican Women; Heather Cline, President of Heartland Republican Women; and many others
10. Here's your closing statement - cover whatever you want to talk about.
I believe that I am eminently qualified for this position of leadership -- having served in leadership positions in Rotary, Chambers of Commerce, Eagle Forum, Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women and National Federation of Republican Women.  I believe that the first responsibility of a leader is to raise up other leaders, and that a GREAT leader has left his/her ego behind -- and gives credit to anyone who helps get the job done.  I love Oklahoma, and I am a very loyal and devoted Republican -- having registered Republican back when it wasn't popular to do so.  The Oklahoma Republican Party has come such a long way in the past 15 years, and now that we have all statewide offices as well as all our Congressmen and Senators, I believe we should make sure that we hold all of them accountable.  We can't take anything for granted!  If Oklahoma can flip from a Democrat-controlled state to a Republican-controlled state -- then it can flip back!  We need to keep educating young voters, minority voters and women voters as to why the Republican Party stands for the highest ideals and values, and is the ONLY party that wants to truly protect their rights.
Thanks for participating, Sara Jo!



[UPDATE]
Current candidates for OKGOP Chair:
Dave Weston -- survey here
Amanda Teegarden -- survey here

Current candidates for OKGOP Vice-Chair:
Denise Crosswhite Hader -- survey here
Sara Jo Odom -- survey here
Richard Engle -- survey here

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pinnell to become new RNC State Party Director


Following his recent announcement that he would not be seeking re-election, Oklahoma GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell has some big news. The Republican National Committee issued the following press release today:


RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Names Matt Pinnell State Party Director

WASHINGTON – Today, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus announced the appointment of Matt Pinnell as the new RNC State Party Director. Pinnell will report directly to Chairman Priebus in addition to Political Director Chris McNulty. Chairman Priebus released the following statement:

“As the RNC moves forward with the recommendations of the Growth and Opportunity Project, I am very pleased to announce outgoing Oklahoma Chairman Matt Pinnell will serve as the chief liaison between the RNC and state parties. Matt knows the workings of the state party system and has the vision to help strengthen state parties as we build for 2014 and 2016,” said Chairman Priebus. “In order to achieve success we must continue to foster existing relationships, strengthen field operations, and welcome new members into the party starting at the state level.

“At the RNC, we’re revamping our entire political field operation to be bottom-up and community based. That means the 50 state parties and territories must take a leading role. As a former local and state party chair, I understand the importance of close coordination and collaboration with the national RNC office. The future of all fifty state parties and territorial parties will be Matt’s top priority. He will ensure we’re giving state parties the support they need, so they can in turn support and empower the work of grassroots activists and volunteers. They are the heart of our party, and our political structure should be one that allows ideas to flow from the individuals on the ground up to RNC leaders—not the other way around.”

Biography of Matt Pinnell:

Matt Pinnell, 33, became Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party on June 26, 2010, and was re-elected in May of 2011 to a full two-year term. Until recently, he was the youngest State Chairman in the country.

Pinnell was appointed in 2010 as “Chairman of the State Chairmen” by Chairman Priebus. In his role as Chairman of the RNC’s State Chairmen’s Committee, Matt directed the sharing of ideas and best practices among the nation’s state Republican leaders.

In 2010, Pinnell oversaw the most successful election cycle for Oklahoma Republicans in state history–helping sweep all eight statewide races and expanding majorities in both the state house and senate. During the 2008 election cycle Pinnell served as the “Oklahoma Victory” Director for the McCain-Palin ticket, helping sweep all 77 counties for John McCain. McCain won 65.4 percent of the vote in Oklahoma, the highest percentage of any state in the nation.

In 2012, the Oklahoma Republican Party continued to see great success under Pinnell’s leadership. Oklahoma–again–won all 77 counties for our presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and swept all five Congressional seats. In addition, Republican voter registration is at an all-time high in the state.

Pinnell spent three years in Washington, D.C., in the field of grassroots advocacy and legislative affairs for the American International Auto Dealers Association (AIADA) and the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). He is a former campaign aide to U.S. Congressman Steve Largent, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, and U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. Matt is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and lives in Tulsa with his wife Lisa and their three children.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Meet the Candidates: Richard Engle, OKGOP Vice-Chair hopeful

Richard Engle, candidate for Oklahoma Republican Party vice-chair

As time draws closer to the 2013 Oklahoma Republican Party State Convention, we continue our series on the individuals who have publicly announced their candidacy to replace outgoing Chairman Matt Pinnell and outgoing Vice-Chair Pam Pollard. Today, let's look at Richard Engle's response to our candidate survey.

The other announced candidate is Denise Crosswhite Hader; her survey is posted here. For chairman, Dave Weston and Amanda Teegarden are the current candidates. You can view Weston's survey here; I have not received a response from Teegarden yet.

Now, meet Richard Engle.


1. Tell us a little bit about your personal side.
My wife since 1985, Denise, is the Deputy Insurance Commissioner, handling all matters of Property/Casualty, Rate and Form Filing, Continuing Education and Workers Compensation. Our Daughter, Destiny, is 21 and living on her own in Oklahoma City.  Denise and I live on a small farm between Mustang and Tuttle.  We are members of, and I an Elder for, Faith Church in Oklahoma City.  I own a business, BellWest America which is Oklahoma's largest independent telephone directory publisher. I believe that serving and building the Republican Party is an important part of God's plan for my life.

2. What involvement have you had in the past with the Republican Party (from precinct-level to RNC)? If possible, include approximate dates.
I have been actively involved in grassroots Republican Party activities for over 30 years.  As stated by former Speaker of the OK House, Lance Cargill, "Richard has knocked more doors, for more candidates than anyone in Oklahoma."  From founding the Christian Coalition in Central Oklahoma, to co-founding OCPAC - the largest membership PAC contributing to conservative Republican candidates only, and as President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, I have been consistent and active from the ground up.

3. Do you currently hold any Republican Party office/position?
I currently serve as State Committeeman for Canadian County, Chair of the Committee on Rules and the County Courthouse Campaign Committee for the OKGOP.

4. What political involvement have you had outside of the Republican Party (i.e. campaigns, elected office, political groups, etc.)? If possible, include approximate dates. 
Unlike other candidates, I have been elected to public office, twice.  I self imposed term limits in accord with a promise to my constituents.  I also serve as the Republican member of the Canadian County Election Board, and served for ten years as the Commissioner of Archives and Records for the State of Oklahoma - being appointed by Gov. Keating.  I regularly write for the Oklahoma Constitution Newspaper and other publications from time to time.  I have vast experience speaking in public and have been interviewed hundreds of times for radio, television and newspapers. 

5. There have been eight state conventions in the last decade; how many have you attended (and which)? 
My recollection is that I have been a Delegate to every OKGOP convention for the last two decades.
I was elected by the 6th Congressional District convention (as was my wife) to the national Convention in San Diego in 1996.  I am told we were the first married couple so elected in Oklahoma, but another married couple was elected by the 2nd District Convention later the same day.

In 2000, I was chosen to be on the Executive Committee Slate as a Delegate to the national Convention in Philadelphia.  My fellow Delegates elected me to serve on the National Rules Committee.

In 2004, I hosted a hospitality suite for the Delegates to the national convention in New York for the National Federation of Republican Assemblies with Phylis Schlafly, Alan Keyes and several others as my co-hosts.  It was gratifying to serve the Delegates, Alternates and guests.  Denise was an Alternate to this and the previous convention as well.

In 2012, I was honored to carry the proxy for our National Committeeman to the RNC and its Rules Committee for the two RNC meetings leading up to and including the convention in Tampa.

While attending national conventions is enjoyable, I am only interested in those in which I can contribute in a substantive way.

6. What prompted you to run for this office?
It is a position of service, and that fact is what motivates me most.  I have spent most of my time in politics (all grassroots) in the party and in supportive roles.  This office gives me the opportunity to serve, support and build our party as a conservative, constitutional force in Oklahoma.  I truly wish to take that service to the next level.

7. What are your top priorities if elected as vice-chair?
As promised last year, I will continue to work to empower the grassroots and to elect Republicans at the local level.  I wanted to move forward with those priorities and I did.  The Committee on the Rules will continue its work where I am advocating for grassroots empowering revisions and more importantly I will continue to work to elect Republicans at the local level.  The County Courthouse Campaign Committee saw extraordinary success when (for the first time) the state party financially supported county candidates.  Last year, not one Democrat defeated an incumbent Republican for county office while eleven Republicans defeated incumbent Democrats.  60% of the challenger candidates the state party supported won!  Republican pick-ups at the county level exceed those in the State House, Senate and Congress combined!

I am eager for the opportunity to bring these priorities to the next level as Vice Chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party.

8. What five issues should the Republican Party focus on politically?
I am eager for the Republican Party to take its platform even more seriously.  A platform is something you stand on if you are a leader, and something you stand beside if not.  It is time we stand on it, firmly resolved that those issues the Oklahoma GOP proclaims as our agenda are settled matters and I will advocate for them with every elected official and with any access I might have with the press.  I have every confidence in the conservative nature of our party and have no qualms with the issues it will put in the platform.

I believe it is incumbent on me, as Vice Chair of the state party to support each plank of the platform or (if absolutely necessary) hold my tongue on any issue I could not support.  If I could not fulfill this pledge then it would be proper to relinquish the role.  It is a representative role and the Delegates to the 2013 OKGOP convention may have confidence that I will represent them well.

To secure that I have fully answered your question, I will list my priorities for public policy.
  1. I am pro-life and will only support the GOP as a pro-life party.
  2. State sovereignty: As we see our national government fall into ever deeper debt, our state must be well prepared to stand up for Oklahomans.  For the time being, the best way to do that is to secure our sovereignty and work to prevent the federal government from imposing unconstitutional mandates on us, thus bankrupting Oklahoma as is being done to our national government.
  3. Individual liberty: Our nation was devised as one that recognized that all men were created equal and that they were endowed by their creator with inalienable rights.
  4. Smaller government:  Democrats controlled the state for nearly 100 years.  The Republican minority voted against nearly every expansion of government.  Yet, when we have won control of the legislature and the Governor's office, we have seen very little reduction in government programs the Republicans opposed in the first place.
  5. Pro-business on a level playing field.  We must build our economy, but never in a way that creates favoritism.

9. List some of the individuals who are publicly supporting your candidacy that delegates might recognize.
I am honored by the support of two Statewide elected officials.  I haven't spoken with all the others yet.

Insurance Commissioner, John Doak and Labor Commissioner, Mark Costello.  Also of note are Sen. Randy Brogden [sic] and Rep. Charles Key.  

10. Here's your closing statement - cover whatever you want to talk about.

My platform is simple. I want to empower the grassroots and I want to elect Republicans at the local level.  I said it so many times, in so many venues last year, I think people believed I meant it.  This year, as they have seen me fulfill those promises and stand for those goals, they are sure to acknowledge that I was, and am, sincere in it.

I look forward to an agreeable convention as we have seen the integration of many new Republican activists who previously were less familiar with and thus less confident in our processes.  Over the last year we have seen some healing in our relationships one with another.  We all lost the bid for the White House, we all have cause to come together.

I believe we can move forward, welcoming those who have the same principles even if they have differing priorities.  We can overcome the spirit of factionalism.  The Republican Party is "the party of liberty, the party of equality, of opportunity for all, and favoritism for none." as stated in the preamble of the national Rules of the GOP.  We can All agree with that!

Finally, I want to say that I appreciate the opportunity I had to run last year and I am gratified that Steve Fair and I have been able to work together (on the Committee on Rules) and I look forward to working with him as we continue to build the OKGOP.

Thanks for participating, Richard!



[UPDATE]
Current candidates for OKGOP Chair:
Dave Weston -- survey here
Amanda Teegarden -- survey here

Current candidates for OKGOP Vice-Chair:
Denise Crosswhite Hader -- survey here
Sara Jo Odom -- survey here
Richard Engle -- survey here

Friday, April 5, 2013

Meet the Candidates: Denise Crosswhite Hader, OKGOP Vice-Chair hopeful


Denise Crosswhite Hader, candidate for Oklahoma Republican Party vice-chair

Continuing our series on the 2013 OKGOP Convention races, let's learn more about one of the two announced candidates for Oklahoma Republican Party Vice-Chair. Current Vice-Chair Pam Pollard is not seeking reelection, putting the second-in-command slot up for grabs at this year's convention. Denise Crosswhite Hader was the first candidate to announce for the position, and the first Vice-Chair hopeful to respond to our survey.

The other announced candidates for Vice-Chair are Richard Engle and Sara Jo Odom. For chairman, Dave Weston and Amanda Teegarden are the current candidates. You can view Weston's survey here; I am awaiting responses from Teegarden, Engle and Odom, and will post them when I hear back.

Now, meet Denise Crosswhite Hader.

1. Tell us a little bit about your personal side.
  • Born and Bred in Oklahoma
  • Piedmont High School and Oral Roberts University (BA-Government)
  • Married to Marc Hader; two daughters and two wonderful sons-in-law; first grandbaby expected in October
  • Church: The Bridge (Mustang Assembly of God)
  • First-Line Service - multiple financial facilities
  • Field Representative and Constituent Services - Congressman Ernest Istook
  • Analyst – Commercial Property Review for Zoning
  • Legislative Liaison and Research Analyst – Oklahoma Labor Department
2. What involvement have you had in the past with the Republican Party (from precinct-level to RNC)? If possible, include approximate dates.
  • First State Convention at 14 years old (1980)
  • College Republicans (1985-1987)
  • Previously held all Precinct positions (many times, different years)
  • House District 100 Chairman (approx. 1998)
  • OK County Vice Chairman (2009-2010)
3. Do you currently hold any Republican Party office?
Precinct Secretary
4. What political involvement have you had outside of the Republican Party (i.e. campaigns, elected office, political groups, etc.)? If possible, include approximate dates.
  • Dr. Tom Coburn for Senate: Office and Volunteer Coordinator (2004)
  • Istook for Congress: Volunteer Coordinator, Ethics Reports, and Campaign Manager (1992-1998)
  • Gary Jones for State Auditor: Campaign Manager (2002)
  • Stan Inman for Oklahoma County Commissioner: Campaign Manager (2002)
  • Candidate for State Senate District 47 (Came in 2nd of 4-winner Todd Lamb)
  • Multiple Volunteer efforts for various campaigns, including: James Lankford for Congress; Mark Costello for Labor Commissioner; Greg Treat for State Senate; and many others from Federal offices right down to the local school board
  • Volunteer service to advance policy issues, such as: Stop HB1017 (education);
  • Right-to-Work; State Question 640 (tax increase limits) and more
  • Member, both past and present of countless GOP clubs and auxiliary conservative organizations
5. There have been eight state conventions in the last decade; how many have you
attended (and which)?
I think I have been to every one.

6. What prompted you to run for this office?
As a Christian, I have grown to love serving others to assist them in accomplishing their goals and endeavors. Like the UPS commercials we’ve all seen, I love logistics and that is my strength. I have a knack for helping others do their job more efficiently by figuring out the most effective way to get people working together to accomplish combined goals.
7. What are your top priorities if elected as vice-chair?
  • To help anyone and everyone that wants to participate in our Party’s process to find a place to do so
  • To gain a Republican registration majority in the State of Oklahoma
  • To find and recruit quality, conservative candidates, from the courthouse down to the schoolhouse, for elections, while maintaining our majorities in Congress, with our statewide offices, and the State Legislature
  • To support our Republican Leadership in advancing the conservative cause
  • To ensure that the GOP has representatives on hand at every naturalization swearing in ceremony for citizenship, to celebrate, welcome and register new American citizens with the GOP
  • To create committees within the GOP with a heart for reaching out to the Latino and Asian communities, by soliciting meetings in their churches, educating them on the principles of our party, and empowering them to become active in shaping the government
  • To empower and support our rural and suburban county party structure to better impact their Communities
8. What five issues should the Republican Party focus on politically?
  • Personal Responsibility: We must exercise it and educate those that don’t have that ethic on why it is beneficial to them.
  • Fiscal Responsibility: The government spends more than we make. Stop it.
  • Size of Government: Reduce it at every level.
  • Scope of Government: Reduce the intrusion into our lives.
  • Life is precious from the beginning to the end. We should honor life with our legislation.
9. List some of the individuals who are publicly supporting your candidacy that
delegates might recognize.
I have a number of people who have pledged support. However, my goal is to have unity and allow everyone to participate in the process. I don’t want to create division by lining up a “team”. I want to work on my own merit.
10. Here's your closing statement - cover whatever you want to talk about.
I am not seeking the Vice Chairman position for the power, the glory, or the financial windfall. It is probably one of the most expensive volunteer positions. I really just want to serve. I hope to be successful in this endeavor on the state level. But if I am not, you will still see me around volunteering where I am needed, especially with the Canadian County GOP. Because it isn’t about me, it really is about the future of our country.

Thanks for participating, Denise!


Denise has a campaign page on Facebook that you can visit here. As I said before, when I get responses back from additional candidates, I will post them.


[UPDATE]
Current candidates for OKGOP Chair:
Dave Weston -- survey here
Amanda Teegarden -- survey here

Current candidates for OKGOP Vice-Chair:
Denise Crosswhite Hader -- survey here
Sara Jo Odom -- survey here
Richard Engle -- survey here

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sarah Palin wins '2016 Primary Madness'


Our 2016 GOP Primary Madness has now come to a close, and the champion 'chosen by the people' is Sarah Palin. After racking up wins all the way through five rounds, Palin smashed Rand Paul in the final matchup with a vote of 526 (91%) to 51 (9%).


The winner of our 2012 GOP Primary Madness - Mitt Romney - ended up as the actual 2012 GOP nominee. Will Sarah Palin follow suit with a victory in 2016? Only time will tell!