Saturday, August 17, 2019

OCPA column: Plugging their ears

Plugging their ears
by OCPA President Jonathan Small

If I were to tell you that people shout “Boomer” at OU football games and wear orange to OSU games, no one would bat an eye. Yet if I say, “Oklahomans strongly support school choice,” some policymakers will run screaming for the exits.

But polling has shown—over and over and over again—that my school-choice statement is as uncontroversial and undeniable as the existence of fan support for college football teams.

The latest proof comes from a poll conducted by Cor Strategies on behalf of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs from July 29 to Aug. 2 by Cor Strategies. It stated, “School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best meets their needs. Generally speaking, would you say you support or oppose the concept of school choice?”

A strong majority—58 percent—said they support school choice; just 30 percent voiced opposition. And strong supporters outnumbered strong opponents by two-to-one. Not surprisingly, support was strongest among Republicans and Independents, but there was also significant support among Democrats.

If this was just one poll, perhaps it could be dismissed. But this is the 12th Oklahoma survey in the last five years showing strong support for school choice. And the other polls were conducted by multiple pollsters for a range of clients. The consistency of Oklahomans’ responses cannot be dismissed.

While one other poll found opposition to school choice, the fact that only one poll out of 13 generated such results gives reason to doubt that one poll, not the other 12.

Also, the findings of those 12 polls are further bolstered by a poll conducted in January that found that, if money and transportation were not factors, 50 percent of Oklahomans would choose an education option for their children other than the traditional public school. That poll found 34 percent of respondents would choose a private school, 9 percent would choose a public charter school, and 7 percent would home-school their children. While it’s great that local traditional schools are doing well enough that 46 percent would still choose them, why should we ignore the wishes of a full half the population on other side?

Rather than plugging their ears and insisting that people aren’t doing the school-choice equivalent of yelling “Boomer” in the stands, policymakers need to respond to Oklahomans’ wishes and increase school-choice opportunity statewide.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Cherokee Chief Hoskin moves to appoint former Obama advisor, DNC staffer as Delegate to Congress

Here's some fascinating news. Newly-elected Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., is appointing the first-ever Cherokee Nation Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Who did he pick? A former advisor to President Obama and DNC staffer, and a maximum campaign donor.

In a letter to Joe Byrd, Speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, Principal Chief Hoskin called for a special session of the tribal council to, among other things, appoint Kimberly Teehee as the Cherokee Nation's first-ever nonvoting delegate to the United States House of Representatives. The Cherokee Nation has long considered itself owed a Representative in Congress due to an 1835 treaty with the United States government, but it apparently has never attempted to seat one -- until now.

Teehee is the Vice President of Government Relations for Cherokee Nation Businesses, and Director of Government Relations for the Cherokee Nation since 2014 after being appointed by Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

Teehee has a long history of involvement in Democratic Party politics.

She served as Senior Advisor to Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) for "nearly twelve years" starting in 1998, and was appointed as Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs in 2009 by President Barack Obama to the White House Domestic Policy Council, which coordinated domestic policy-making process in the White House and offered advice to Obama.

Going further back, Teehee worked for the Democratic National Committee as their first deputy director of Native American Outreach, and served as director of Native American outreach for President Bill Clinton's 1997 inauguration.

Teehee was a $5,000 maximum donor to Hoskin during the recent and hotly-contested election for principal chief. Hoskin won after his chief opponent was controversially disqualified by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court two days before Election Day due to allegations made by a Hoskin campaign employee.

(click to view larger)
Other high profile financial supporters of Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., include Oklahoma State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) (to the tune of the maximum $5,000), Oklahoma House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman), disgraced former Governor David Walters, and Drew Edmondson, a former Attorney General and the 2018 Democrat nominee for Governor.

It is interesting to note that in the most recent congressional election in the counties that make up the Cherokee Nation, not one went for the Democratic candidate, and the Republican Party received approximately 64% of the vote.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tulsa GOP to hold 3rd Annual Luau, featuring LtGov Pinnell

The Republican Party of Tulsa County will be holding their 3rd Annual Luau on Friday, September 13 at the Tulsa Zoo, featuring Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell is this year's special guest. Bring the whole family out as the Annual Luau takes a turn into the Zoo for a Safari Adventure

A reception will run from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, with the BBQ Dinner beginning at 6:30pm.

Early Bird Registration by September 9th gets a Zoo PASS that allows you to come and go all day! Tickets are $50 per adult, $20 per child, or $125 for a family, and may be purchased on EventBrite.

Randy Talley announces candidacy for HD56

Randy Talley announces campaign for Oklahoma House District 56

CHICKASHA – Communications leader and business advocate Randy Talley has announced his campaign for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, seeking to represent District 56 in Southwest Oklahoma.

With 38 years in professional communications, working as a leader in community development, education and charity, Talley has accepted the challenge to run for state office.

“I am committed to building responsible, sustainable government,” Talley said. “We Oklahomans live in the most prosperous time in history, in a strong economy with great potential for growth. If we can’t get this right … if we can’t manage our success … if we can’t build a path to excellence for our children, there’s something wrong.”

First- and Second-Amendment issues are top priorities in Talley’s campaign. “The Bill of Rights is really nothing more than a catalog of individual rights,” Talley said. “Every Amendment constrains government.”

The right to life for unborn persons is another inalienable right, according to Talley. “Every person living – including those not yet born – is a creation of God. In 50 years, people will be asking, ‘given scientific progress, how is it possible that you believed abortion was a moral choice?’”

Education funding and reform are important issues in Oklahoma, says Talley, who served on a local education task force last year. “I see first-hand the burdens that our teachers face. We need solutions that set Oklahoma schools and kids on a path to success.”

Military and law enforcement deserve more respect than they get, Talley says. “We are a nation of laws, and unless we vote for anarchy, we need to support and protect our military and first responders. I promise to support all those who serve honorably and I will work strongly against sanctuary city policies in Oklahoma.”

Long active in pro-business activities, Talley helped to establish the Chickasha Chamber Civic Hall of Fame. Currently he is employed as senior vice president for communications at First National Bank & Trust Co. in Chickasha.

Talley and his family enjoy volunteering for The Salvation Army of Grady and Caddo Counties, where he serves as chairman of the advisory board. He’s a deacon at his church and is active in poverty solutions in Grady County.

“My faith in Christ informs my politics,” Talley said. “Everyone has faith; we all believe in something that frames our worldview, even if it’s the goodness of man.”

Talley worked as a journalist after earning a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from Oklahoma State University in 1983. He taught journalism and worked in communication at three universities, eventually settling in Chickasha, where he led the team in communications at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma for 27 years. In 2006, he was named Oklahoma’s Communicator of the Year.

As a former journalist, Talley argues that ‘political correctness’ harms free speech for everyone. “You can feel the tension rising. People are afraid to speak their minds on local, state and national levels for fear of being called a bigot or being banned from social media. That’s wrong. We can’t maintain a civil society if acceptable speech is defined down to unscientific and emotional nonsense. We don’t need to silence people. We need to inform them.”

Talley was raised in Anadarko, where six generations of his family have lived. “I am blessed with a great family and deep Oklahoma roots. One of our sons serves in the Air National Guard and eight other members of my extended family currently are serving in various branches of U.S. Military service.”

Talley and his wife of 30 years, Kathie, have four adult children and a daughter-in-law.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Stitt signs bill to track Federal dollars in state agencies

Sen. Dahm (left) and Rep. Hilbert (right) are joined by Dave Bond of OCPA and his son as Gov. Stitt signs SB271.

Gov. Signs Dahm, Hilbert Bill to Track Federal Dollars in State Agencies

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill to improve government transparency in a ceremony at the State Capitol last week. Senate Bill 271 was authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) and Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Bristow).

The bill requires all state agencies to annually disclose and rank all federally affiliated funds, programs and priorities. Hilbert, who serves as the vice chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said any agency receiving and administering federal funds that require any level of security clearance in order to administer received funds is exempt from the disclosure requirements.

“As elected officials, we should always take into consideration transparency and accountability,” Dahm said. “Unfortunately, many agencies choose not to share all the information in order for fully-informed decisions to be made. This bill will allow us to better represent our constituents by having this information known when making budget decisions. And by having the agencies post it on their website, this financial information will be directly available to the citizens of Oklahoma as well. It’s a huge step forward for transparency in how agencies spend our money.”

“The Legislature currently does not have a clear understanding of how many federal dollars various state agencies are receiving, how they’re being used or what strings are attached to those federal dollars,” Hilbert said. “The state agencies already have this information available, and Senate Bill 271 will make this information readily accessible to state legislators while considering funding and appropriations.”

SB 271 was officially signed by Stitt on April 29 and will go into effect on Nov. 1.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

OKGOP slams Dems' Constitutional Carry repeal effort

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman David McLain

(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK) - During a press conference Monday, Democrat state representative Jason Lowe announced his filing of a repeal petition to repeal House Bill 2597, commonly known as constitutional carry. He was joined by far-left activist groups including Bloomberg-funded Moms Demand Action and Young Democrats of America.

Per the rules surrounding repeal petitions in Oklahoma, the out-of-state activist groups will be required to acquire tens of thousands of signatures in the next 10 days in order to have their repeal question placed upon the 2020 ballot.

In response to Rep. Lowe's announcement, Oklahoma Republican Party chairman David McLain released the following statement:

"Our Republican-led legislature voted overwhelmingly in 2019 to protect Oklahomans' constitutional right to carry and through Governor Kevin Stitt's leadership, Oklahomans will soon be allowed to fully exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The Oklahoma Republican Party stands ready to defend every Oklahoman's right to bear arms and we stand firmly against the far-left agenda of Oklahoma Democrat lawmakers and out-of-state socialists."

Monday, August 12, 2019

BREAKING: OK Dems to attempt initiative to repeal Constitutional Carry

State Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC), supported by the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action, the president of the Young Democrats of America, and other groups, announced today that he has filed with the Secretary of State to collect signatures for an initiative petition to overturn permit-less carry (aka Constitutional Carry) legislation here in Oklahoma.

The press release announcing the move is below:

MEDIA ADVISORY: Lowe to Hold Press Conference to Announce Referendum Petition on Permit-Less Carry Legislation

WHO: Representative Jason Lowe, Joshua Harris-Till – President of Young Democrats of America, Jennifer Birch – Oklahoma Deputy Chapter Lead of Moms Demand Action, Rev. Lori Walke – OKC Faith Outreach Lead, Moms Demand Action

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: TODAY, August 12, at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Room 432B of the State Capitol

WHY: Today Representative Jason Lowe has filed language with the Secretary of State to repeal House Bill 2597 commonly known as Permit-less carry. He and the groups joining him believe the people of Oklahoma should decide if removing training and permits for firearms are the right decision for our state. With a very narrow window of 10 days, Representative Lowe hopes to get tens of thousands of signatures in order to place this question on the 2020 ballot.

Moms Demand Action is part of a nationwide anti-gun organization founded by the infamously anti-Second Amendment former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was influential in the 2018 defeat of 5th District Republican Congressman Steve Russell. Former Oklahoma governor, senator, and OU president David Boren used to be on the advisory board of the national organization ('Everytown for Gun Safety') that oversees MDA.

Joshua Harris-Till twice ran for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District. In 2014, he lost in the primary, and was the 2016 Democratic nominee, garnering just over 23% of the vote. He was elected as national president of the Young Democrats of America at their 2019 convention last month.

Lori Walke is the wife of State Rep. Collin Walke (D-OKC), one of the most liberal members of the Oklahoma Legislature.

HB 2597 was the first bill signed into law by Governor Stitt in February 2019, after passing the House by a vote of 70-30 and the Senate by a vote of 40-7. HB 2597 established “Constitutional Carry,” allowing the concealed or unconcealed carry of firearms by any person who is at least twenty-one years of age or at least eighteen years of age and in the military, if the person is not otherwise disqualified to purchase a firearm.

CD5 GOP primary: Neese endorsed by Shawnee mayor


Oklahoma City, OK – Terry Neese, conservative Republican candidate for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, has secured the endorsement of Shawnee City Mayor Richard Finley. In a statement released today, Mayor Finley urged 5th District Republicans to join him in supporting “a proven conservative and successful job creator” who will return Oklahoma values to our Congressional House District in 2020.

“Terry is a proven conservative and successful job creator who has devoted her entire life and career to helping tens of thousands of men and women succeed,” said Mayor Richard Finley. “There is no candidate in this race who is more equipped with the experience and leadership needed to take on Kendra Horn and stop the radical Left’s destructive giveaways. I am proud to give Terry my full endorsement and I urge 5th District Republicans to join me in electing a results-oriented ally of our President who will deliver for Oklahomans.”

“I am proud to have the endorsement of Mayor Finley, a fierce defender of good governance and a tremendous advocate for Shawnee taxpayers,” said Terry Neese. “Like me, Mayor Finley has seen firsthand how big-government regulations and taxes cripple job growth, hurt our economy, and leave working families struggling to make ends meet. As the Congresswoman for the 5th District, I will fight for regulatory relief, lower taxes, and pro-job policies that will help grow our nation’s economy and secure brighter futures for all Oklahomans.” 

In addition to serving as Mayor of the City of Shawnee, Richard Finley is also a retired partner of Finley & Cook and a successful Oklahoma Certified Public Accountant.

For more information on Terry Neese or her campaign, please visit

Saturday, August 10, 2019

OEA tweet: "teaching is a political act"

Union declares teaching is political

Just weeks after roughly 60 of its members attended a conference where participants voiced support for abortion, transgender rights, reparations for slavery, and more, the Oklahoma Education Association tweeted that teaching “is a political act.”

On July 28, a message on the OEA’s official Twitter account stated, “As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good. We can no longer shut up and teach.”

That text was a quote pulled from a linked “Education Week” article by Rep. John Waldron, a former teacher and Tulsa Democrat. In that article, Waldron decried an anti-abortion measure passed by Oklahoma lawmakers and criticized the decision to place $200 million into state savings. Waldron also compared “deep-red” states like Oklahoma to the Confederacy as examples of “government under single-party rule.”

Shortly after comparing proponents of slavery and modern lawmakers, Waldron wrote, “One of the reasons we have so many states run by one party is that we have learned to vilify the other side rather than listen to it.”

The OEA tweet is only the latest instance where union officials have voiced apparent support for the intermingling of teaching and politics.

In a 2016 column urging political activism, OEA president Alicia Priest declared that “everything about public education is political. The reforms, the elected school board, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the standards, your salary and benefits, the textbooks that are approved for your use—ALL politically driven decisions.”

Among the benefits of increased political activity, Priest wrote, was “the treasure of building power.”

Other union activists have been even more explicit in advocating political stances via the education system.

On Feb. 8, Priest tweeted a picture of herself and Aaron Baker, an 8th-grade history teacher in Del City. Both were attending the National Education Association Foundation Gala, and Priest noted Baker was an “OEA awardee” at the event.

That tweet was notable because Baker, who has also been a participant in the OEA’s delegate assembly, has often proclaimed that he injects politics into educational settings. Among other things, he has written that he teaches his students “that the phrase ‘law and order’ is steeped in systemic racism,” that “concentrated wealth multiplies poverty,” “that most of the time, when people kill people, they use guns,” and that “the greatest nuclear threat the world has ever seen is the United States of America.”

Baker has also written, “There are seeds of an Oklahoma Socialist revival germinating in the rich soil of progressive #oklaed.”

Some officials who have won election with OEA backing have avoided the explicit rhetoric of the union, but have often fallen in line with the union’s demands when it comes time to vote.

In a November 2018 video podcast with The Oklahoman, Sen. Cari Hicks, an Oklahoma City Democrat and former teacher who was endorsed by the OEA, downplayed the role of partisanship in policymaking.

“Education, to me, is nonpartisan,” Hicks said.

But she subsequently joined a party-line effort to block most of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s nominees to the State Board of Education. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, Hicks opposed confirmation of Carlisha Williams Bradley; William Flanagan, Jr.; Estela Hernandez and Jennifer Monies.

Hicks opposed Flanagan’s nomination after he expressed support for charter schools and virtual education and said officials could reduce administrative duplication and waste in Oklahoma schools.

Hicks announced her opposition to Hernandez and Monies before either nominee appeared before the committee. The Oklahoman reported that Hicks said she “was aided in her decision by a set of criteria put together by Democratic lawmakers focused on education,” but “declined to share the criteria.”

Stitt’s Board of Education nominees were opposed by the OEA.

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman.

2019 Conservative Index released, rating OK legislators

Legislators Rated
by Oklahoma Constitution Staff

The Oklahoma Constitution presents the 41st annual Oklahoma Conservative Index, rating our state legislators. Members of each house of the Oklahoma Legislature were rated on ten key votes. A favorable vote on these issues represents a belief in conservative principles.

After taking suggestions from conservative leaders, the staff of the Oklahoma Constitution submitted proposed bills to a vote of the membership of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) to determine the ten key votes. The legislators were rated based on their votes on bills which included such issues as protecting free speech, protecting the right to keep and bear arms, protecting life, obstructing overbearing government regulations, against subsidizing businesses, and in opposition to revisionist history.

The average score this year was 48% in the House and 61% in the Senate. The Top Conservative and Top Liberal legislators were selected by their scores on the Index. Making the Top Conservatives list were 29 lawmakers who scored 80% or more. On the Top Liberals list were 31 lawmakers scoring 20% or less.


Four legislators, two in the House and two in the Senate, scored a perfect 100% conservative rating this year. House members scoring 100% were Tom Gann of Inola, and Jim Olsen of Roland. Senators scoring 100% were Mark Allen of Spiro, and Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow.

The next highest score was 93%, made by Representative Kevin West of Moore. Also scoring 93% were Senators Marty Quinn of Claremore, and Gary Stanislawski of Tulsa. Scoring 90% were House members Denise Crosswhite of Yukon, Tommy Hardin of Madill, Mark Lepak of Claremore, and Sean Roberts of Hominy.

One legislator, Sen. Joe Newhouse of Broken Arrow, score 86 percent. Two House members, Chad Caldwell of Enid, and Rande Worthen of Lawton, scored 83 percent. Also scoring 83% were Senators Larry Boggs of Red Oak, Julie Daniels of Bartlesville, and Casey Murdock of Felt.

Completing the list of Top Conservatives were 13 legislators who scored 80 percent. House members scoring 80% were Rhonda Baker of Yukon, Justin Humphrey of Lane, Mike Sanders of Kingfisher, Jay Steagall of Yukon, and Zack Taylor of Seminole. Senate members scoring 80% were Michael Bergstrom of Adair, David Bullard of Durant, John Haste of Broken Arrow, John Montgomery of Lawton, Roland Pederson of Burlington, Dewayne Pemberton of Muskogee, Wayne Shaw of Grove, and Darrell Weaver of Moore.


A large number of legislators scored zero conservative this year, including the Minority (Democrat) Leaders in both chambers. Thirteen representatives and three senators took the liberal position on all ten bills included on this year’s Oklahoma Conservative Index. Members of the House scoring zero were Kelly Albright of Midwest City, Merleyn Bell of Norman, Forrest Bennett of Oklahoma City, Chelsey Branham of Edmond, Mickey Dollens of Oklahoma City, Monroe Nichols of Tulsa, Melissa Provenzano of Tulsa, Trish Ranson of Stillwater, Jacob Rosecrants of Norman, Shane Stone of Oklahoma City, Emily Virgin of Norman (House Minority Leader), John Waldron of Tulsa, and Collin Walke of Oklahoma City. Members of the Senate scoring zero were Kay Floyd of Oklahoma City (Senate Minority Leader), Julia Kirt of Oklahoma City, and Kevin Matthews of Tulsa.

The next lowest score was 3% made by four representatives: Denise Brewer of Tulsa, Regina Goodwin of Tulsa, Jason Lowe of Oklahoma City, and Cyndi Munson of Oklahoma City. Two other representatives, Meloyde Blancett of Tulsa and Jason Dunnington of Oklahoma City, scored 6 percent. Three members of the House scored 10 percent, including Andy Fugate of Oklahoma City, Ben Loring of Miami, and David Perryman of Chickasha. Also scoring 10% were Senators Mary Boren of Norman, Michael Brooks of Oklahoma City, Carri Hicks of Oklahoma City, and George Young of Oklahoma City. One legislator, Rep. Ajay Pittman of Oklahoma City, received a 15% score. It is worthy of note that she missed five of the ten votes and voted liberal on the other five. Completing the Top Liberals list was one legislator, Rep. John Talley of Stillwater, who scored 20 percent.

If you want to view the Index in non-PDF format, go to this link, courtesy of SoonerPolitics.