Wednesday, August 26, 2015

County Party Finances: net growth for 2015

Closing out this update to my County Party Finances series, today we're examining net changes for 2015.

Statewide, Republican county parties netted a gain of $44,437.26. Ten counties had positive gains ($47,836.98), six reported no money raised or spent, and nine show losses (-$3,399.72). In 2013, the GOP had a net gain of just over $24,000.

(click to view larger)

Top five counties: Tulsa ($22,943.70), Oklahoma ($14,237.86), Muskogee ($8,174.03), Grady ($620.05), and Osage ($502.45).

Bottom five counties: Creek (-$220.37), Stephens (-$356.54), Wagoner (-$435.72), Carter (-$739.07), and Washington (-$1,273.52).

Together, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Muskogee counties have a net gain of $45,355.59 -- without that, the statewide total would be in the red about nine hundred dollars.

(click to view larger)

Statewide, Democratic county parties showed a net loss of $447.11. Eleven counties had a gain ($8,158.92), four raised and spent nothing, and eight show losses (-$8,606.03). In 2013, the Democrats had a net loss of just over $10,000.

Top five counties: Creek ($4,482.24), Comanche ($1,320.17), Lincoln ($407.00), Pottawatomie ($353.50), and Muskogee ($338.06).

Bottom five counties: Canadian and Kingfisher (-$250), Payne (-$490.27), Cleveland (-$988.05), Tulsa (-$2,084.43), and Oklahoma (-$4,395.06).

Note: as mentioned previously, the figures for Garvin County on the Democratic side are for the 1st Quarter only - the Ethics Commission site shows them as being "past due".

Monday, August 24, 2015

County Party Finances: raised and spent

The other day, I posted an update to my County Party Finances series, in which we looked at cash-on-hand totals for local party organizations. Today, we're looking at what those county parties have raised and spent in 2015.

The 25 "current" Republican counties have raised a grand total of $96,408.76. That's a $16,000 increase from 2013, although more counties now file with the Ethics Commission.

(click to view larger)

The top five for the GOP are Tulsa ($32,608.99), Oklahoma ($19,444), Muskogee ($17,100), Stephens ($11,481.72), and Carter ($3,818). Eight counties raised nothing, while Washington County "raised" 35¢ in interest. Ten counties brought in more than $1,000. Tulsa, Oklahoma and Muskogee counties raised 72% of the grand total.

Now for the Democratic side. Their 23 "current" counties raised a grand total of $41,651.15, a significant drop from their $68,732 in 2013.

(click to view larger)

The Democrats top five counties are Tulsa ($9,578.23), Cleveland ($9,186.22), Payne ($8,042), Creek ($5,229.58), and Comanche ($3,835.19). Oklahoma County was the only other one to raise more than $1,000 (they brought in $1,040). Five counties raised nothing, and Washington County took in only $4 (add the Washington County GOP's 35¢ and you've either got a stingy county or lackadaisical local parties). The top three counties raised 64.5% of the statewide total. Garvin County's figure is 1st Quarter only.

Now let's look at the spending side of things.

On the Republican side, the statewide total of spending was $51,971.50 (in 2013 it was about $56,500). 
 (click to view larger)

Top five counties: Stephens ($11,838.26), Tulsa ($9,665.29), Muskogee ($8,925.97), Oklahoma ($5,206.14), and Carter ($4,557.07). Nine counties spent nothing. The top three counties spent about 58.5% of the grand total.

On the Democratic side, their statewide total was $42,098.26 (in 2013 it was about $79,000)
(click to view larger)

Top five counties: Tulsa ($11,662.66), Cleveland ($10,174.27), Payne ($8,532.27), Oklahoma ($5,435.06), and Comanche ($2,515.02). Seven counties spent nothing. Tulsa and Cleveland counties spend about 52% of the grand total.

On Wednesday, we'll look at the net change totals for 2015.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Labor Commissioner Mark Costello stabbed to death


Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello was stabbed to death this evening in Oklahoma City. News reports say that Costello was meeting with his son at Braum's on North May Avenue in an attempted reconciliation effort, when the son attacked Costello with a knife.

Costello was first elected in 2010, and was re-elected in 2014 by a wide margin. He was dedicated to his work as Labor Commissioner. A true friend to the Republican Party grassroots, he traveled the state extensively, attending GOP events and helping local candidates. Below is a photo of me and my wife with Costello, at the Muskogee County GOP's Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in 2014.


Costello had a knack for the personal -- he could always remember minute details about people he came in contact with. He sent us a handwritten card when he found out my wife was expecting, and a real Republican gift (an elephant pacifier) for Carmen after she was born.

Mark Costello will certainly be sorely missed.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

County Party Finances: Cash-on-hand

In 2013, I did a series on County Party Finances, illustrating the financial health of local party organizations. Over the next few days, we'll update that series with the 2015 figures.

On the Republican side, 25 county parties are up-to-date (2nd quarter) in their campaign finance filings. That's up from 17 counties in 2013. On the Democratic side, 22 counties are up-to-date, and 1 county (Garvin) filed a 1st quarter report. That's also up from 17 counties in 2013.

First up, cash-on-hand totals.

(click to view larger)

The top five counties on the GOP side are Tulsa ($25,903.34), Comanche ($20,912.88), Stephens ($20,179.41), Oklahoma ($18,282.18), and my home county Muskogee ($16,675.86). The lowest county is Carter, with $8.92 on hand.

Last time we looked at this topic, Tulsa County had not filed an ethics report since 2007. They recently began filing reports (new leadership in charge), and jumped to the top of the pack in fundraising. Comanche, Stephens and Muskogee counties have consistently been in the top five (or less) for years.

All told, the 25 GOP county parties have just over $144,000 in the bank.

(click to view larger)

The top five counties on the Democratic side are Cleveland ($11,232.86), Tulsa  ($10,084.46), Comanche ($7,948.06), Creek ($4,773.98), and Payne ($4,358.33). The lowest county is Kingfisher, with $56.76 on hand.

All told, the 23 Democrat county parties have just over $55,000 in the bank, almost $75,000 less than their Republican counterparts.

Next time, we'll look at the totals for receipts and expenditures.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Iran to Inspect (Its Own) Nuclear Site


Headline: UN TO LET IRAN INSPECT ALLEGED NUKE WORK SITE

No, that's not a headline from The Onion. It's an Associated Press exclusive story.
Vienna (AP) -- Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press. [...]

The newly disclosed side agreement, for an investigation of the Parchin nuclear site by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, is linked to persistent allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear-limits deal. [...] 
The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package. [...]

The agreement in question diverges from normal procedures by allowing Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence of activities it has consistently denied - trying to develop nuclear weapons.
There are some times when something is so absurd that you can't come up with words accurate enough to describe the absurdity.

This is one of those times.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Conservative Index: Cruz endorsers vs. Bush endorsers

Two Republican presidential contenders recently released a list of Oklahoma endorsements that included several state legislators each, among other individuals. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been endorsed by 3 state senators (including Senate President Brian Bingman) and 10 state representatives, while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is supported by 1 state senator and 9 state representatives (including House Speaker Jeff Hickman).

For an interesting exercise, I went to the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper's Conservative Index to compare scores between the two camps.


The ten legislators that endorsed Bush have an average lifetime score of 62.2. The thirteen legislators that endorsed Cruz have an average lifetime score of 81.3.

I found that to be an interesting and very telling tidbit.

This is probably just the first round of state legislative endorsements for these candidates, as well as the 15 others running for president. I'll try to update this whenever more lists are released.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cruz in Oklahoma Thursday, adds new OK endorsers


Presidential candidate Ted Cruz will be coming to Oklahoma this Thursday, making stops in Oklahoma City, Bartlesville and Tulsa.

Accompanying him will be 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine, who is one of Cruz's most outspoken congressional supporters. Bridenstine officially endorsed Cruz on July 20th.

Speaking of Bridenstine, he introduced Cruz at the RedState Gathering in Atlanta over the weekend, and his talk is worth the watch:



Back to Cruz news. According to OKforCruz.com, which is paid for by Bridenstine's committee and authorized by Cruz for President, Cruz has picked up the following endorsements:

  • U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine
  • State Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa)
  • State Sen. Gary Stanislawski (R-Tulsa)
  • State Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore)
  • State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow)
  • State Rep. David Derby (R-Owasso)
  • State Rep. Dan Fisher (R-Yukon)
  • State Rep. Sally Kern (R-OKC)  [updated]
  • State Rep. Mark Lepak (R-Claremore)
  • State Rep. Mark McCullough (R-Sapulpa)
  • State Rep. Michael Rogers (R-Broken Arrow)
  • State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks)
  • State Rep. Ken Walker (R-Tulsa)
  • State Rep. Justin Wood (R-Shawnee)
  • Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel
  • Wagoner County Assessor Sandy Hodges
  • Wagoner County Clerk Lori Hendricks
  • Wagoner County Court Clerk Jim Hight
  • Wagoner County Treasurer Dana Patten

13 of those 18 elected officials are in the 1st Congressional District (and 2 others are in the 2nd District, but essentially Tulsa metro), which bodes well for Cruz, as the Tulsa metro holds a big chunk of the primary electorate.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My thoughts on the first GOP debate


Thursday night's debate was a record setter, drawing an estimated viewing audience of over 24 million people. That makes it "the highest-rated primary debate in television history as well as the highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of all time in total viewers."

I didn't get to watch the debate live, but did get to view it last night online. Overall, it was a good debate; I couldn't really pick out a clear winner. Here are my thoughts in order of poll ranking, along with the amount of speaking time each candidate got.

Donald Trump (10:31)
Trump was entertaining, as expected. Performance-wise, it was very mixed. He doesn't have a good response for much of his past liberal views and record, and has a tendency to disdain questions (and questioners). He hit the right notes at some points, but lacks depth on policy and a conservative philosophy. Do we really want a nominee who boasts that he buys politicians?

Jeb Bush (8:47)
Bush seemed a bit scattered. He stumbled over several of his answers, and came across unprepared (or perhaps rusty). So much for the "shock and awe" he was supposed to bring as front runner. He may have the money, but if he performs in future debates like he did in this one, money won't be enough to save his campaign.

Scott Walker (5:55)
Walker did well when he spoke, but it seemed to take a little bit for him to warm up. It was a good performance; not great, but he didn't hurt himself.

Mike Huckabee (6:50)
I felt that Huckabee's debate performance was strong. He's a natural on the stage, and is quicker on his feet and more articulate in his answers than just about any of the other candidates.

Ben Carson (6:36)
At some points in the debate, Carson looked like he felt out of place. At other points, he had some great moments. With his calm, soft-spoken manner, it's easy for him to get lost in the crowd, but I think he did well, overall.

Ted Cruz (6:43)
I was surprised by how slowly Cruz spoke during the debate (slowest words-per minute in the field), which kind of limited how much he could get in, and he had the largest silent spell of the candidates. Otherwise, he had a solid performance, particularly at the closing.

Marco Rubio (6:44)
Rubio probably had the best performance. He's smooth on his feet, articulate, likable, and never seemed to be searching for his answer. He also came across genuine and heartfelt. There really wasn't a bad point for him during the debate.

Rand Paul (5:00)
Paul tried a little too hard to be aggressive. He came across petulant and irritable, particularly in his exchange with Christie over NSA surveillance. It was eerily reminiscent of Rudy Giuliani's spats with Ron Paul in the 2008 debates, which is not a good thing. It's one thing to try to stand out in a crowded field, but Rand went about it the wrong way.

Chris Christie (6:11)
Christie's big moment was his tangle with Rand Paul. While he didn't come across as petty as Rand did, I don't think he necessarily emerged a clear winner out of it. He did have a bright spot in the exchange with Huckabee on entitlements; it's a major issue, but few want to even discuss it. I don't think he gets any bump out of the debate, but he didn't cause himself irreparable harm.

John Kasich (6:56)
This was Kasich's first big opportunity to introduce himself to voters, and I think he did so-so. His attempts to connect with average middle-class voters ("my dad was a mailman" comments) seemed forced and inauthentic. He didn't fall on his face, but I don't think he gained any ground, which he needed to do. In some respects, he was helped by the home-field advantage with the debate audience.


Helped

  • Marco Rubio
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Ted Cruz
  • Ben Carson

Neither helped nor hurt

  • Scott Walker
  • Chris Christie
  • John Kasich

Hurt

  • Jeb Bush
  • Donald Trump
  • Rand Paul

With ten candidates on the stage (not even counting the seven that didn't make it on), it was difficult for most of them to be able to speak enough to make a big impact.

I thought some of the questions were dumb, and a lot of them were intended to start some on-stage squabbling, but compared to debates in previous elections, I thought this was one of the best.

Comment with your thoughts. Did you miss the debate? Watch online here, or embedded below:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Rick Brinkley resigns from State Senate

State Sen. Rick Brinkley (R-Owasso)

From the Oklahoman:
State Sen. Rick Brinkley, accused of embezzling more than $1 million to support a hidden gambling habit, resigned from the Oklahoma Legislature on Friday afternoon, effective Dec. 31.

Former State Sen. Glenn Coffee delivered the resignation letter to the office of Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, said Matt Glanville, Bingman's spokesman.

He said Bingman would have no comment. Coffee also delivered a copy of the letter to the secretary of state's office.

The text of the letter was not released.

Brinkley, R-Owasso, is accused of embezzling from the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa while he was an official there. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has been looking into the matter since Jan. 22.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

'Delenda Est Carthago': Defund Planned Parenthood

A bust thought to be of Cato the Elder

In the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, there was a great struggle for Mediterranean dominance between the Roman Republic and Carthage, with three devastating wars fought between the two powers. Cato the Elder (234-149 BC) was a Roman statesman, orator and writer who, toward the end of his life, was obsessed with the fear that Carthage would once again grow into a major power and destroy Rome.

To that end, he ended all of his speeches in the Roman Senate, with the phrase "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam" ("Moreover, I consider that Carthage should be destroyed"). The phrase is oftentimes abbreviated as "Delenda est Carthago".

His speech may have been about agriculture, or infrastructure, or commerce, or the latest events in the city of Rome, but he (according to history) always concluded by saying "Carthage must be destroyed." By consistent repetition and determination, he was able to turn Roman opinion to his side, and Rome drew Carthage into a third and final conflict that resulted in the total destruction of Carthage in 146 BC.

I contend that we need a new Cato.

Most of you have probably already seen or heard about the undercover Center for Medical Progress videos showing Planned Parenthood harvesting organs from aborted babies, and selling them. Planned Parenthood claims that they are simply "following the law" -- an argument reminiscent of the infamous 'Nuremburg defense' given by Nazi war criminals ("we were following orders").

The first video showed a senior director for Planned Parenthood munching salad and sipping wine while discussing how "a lot of people want intact hearts these days", how they're getting good at crushing above and below organs in order to get it intact, and hinted that they use partial-birth abortion techniques (which are highly illegal).

The second video showed another senior Planned Parenthood official haggling over prices for fetal tissue, and joking that 'I want a Lamborghini'.

The third video featured a former Planned Parenthood employee discuss, among other things, how her job was to "identify pregnant women at Planned Parenthood who met criteria for fetal tissue orders and to harvest the fetal body parts after their abortions."

The fourth video showed a Planned Parenthood medical director say "I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it", and another staffer dig through freshly aborted body parts while exclaiming "another boy!"

More videos are coming. Planned Parenthood has publicly aired fears that as much as nine hours of recordings may be released.

Planned Parenthood receives over half a billion dollars in federal funding, primarily through Medicaid. Federal law (the Hyde Amendment) prohibits the funding of most abortions, yet giving Planned Parenthood any of my taxpayer dollars for one part of their activity frees up resources for abortions. Abortion is the greatest moral blight in America's history, and funding this atrocious organization in any way is despicable.

As a result of these videos, several states are opening up investigations into Planned Parenthood's practices. Congress plans investigations as well, and legislation has been filed in the House and Senate to officially defund Planned Parenthood. This is all good, but signs are appearing that GOP leadership isn't really committed to following through with it.

The House left for August recess without a vote. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), the chief sponsor of the 'Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015', condemned the move, quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." At least the Senate is going through the motions to schedule a vote, although we'll see if that actually happens.

I am tired of empty promises and vain rhetoric from the Republican leadership in Congress. We've been sold a bill of goods for years about how Republicans are pro-life, and how they're going to do something about it "when we win this coming election", yet time after time they fail to follow through.

We need a new Cato to stand up and shout a modern Delenda est Carthago! from the floor of each respective chamber of Congress.

When Congress returns from August recess, somebody in the House and Senate needs to take to the floor every single day and demand that Planned Parenthood be defunded.

They need to speak on every piece of legislation that comes up in committee or on the floor, and insert that Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded.

They need to amend every piece of legislation in committee or on the floor until Planned Parenthood has been defunded.

Who will be the William Wilberforce of our time, and fight the abortion juggernaut in the halls of power? Who will stand up, carry the banner and fight when no one else will? Who will stand alone and carry the cry until people listen?

If the GOP fails to act on this issue, if they fail to defund Planned Parenthood, if they fail to take a stand, then they deserve a purging the likes of which has never been seen in American history.

Defund Planned Parenthood!


          *          *          *          *          *          *

This post wouldn't be complete without giving suggestions on taking action. It's one thing to read about an issue and agree with it, but it's another to go to the lengths needed to carry that out. Here are some suggestions:

Go here to sign a petition hosted by LifeSiteNews.com.
Contact your U.S. Representative here, and ask them to defund Planned Parenthood.
Contact your U.S. Senators here, and ask them to defund Planned Parenthood.