Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Former CD2 candidate Dakota Wood joins Trump DoD transition team

Dakota Wood, who came in third in the 2012 2nd District GOP primary, has been named part of President-elect Trump's transition team for the Department of Defense.

According to a release yesterday, Wood is a new addition to the DoD "landing team" Trump has put together. Members of the "landing teams" are Trump transition volunteers and staffers who will be working with current agency and department personnel to ensure a smooth transition.

Wood spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and currently is the Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs at The Heritage Foundation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fallin named to transition team, leading pick for Interior Secretary?

It was announced today that Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin was named as a vice-chair of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team:
President-Elect Donald J. Trump Announces New Vice Chairs and Executive Committee Members Serving on Presidential Transition Team

(New York, NY) - President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect and Chairman of the Presidential Transition Team Mike Pence today announced the addition of new Vice Chairs, Executive Committee members, and key staff leadership who will join the Trump-Pence Presidential Transition Team.

Joining the distinguished group of Vice Chairs are Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis, Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland, Congressman Tom Reed and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and U.S. Senator Tim Scott. Also joining the Executive Committee are: Congressman Sean Duffy, Congressman Trey Gowdy, Congressman Dennis Ross, Pastor Darrell Scott and Kiron Skinner.
Full list of the Trump transition vice-chairs and executive committee is here. Two of the other vice-chairs on the team have already been named to prominent posts -- Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor), Sen. Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) -- while several others are rumored to be in the running for other positions.

Along those lines, the rumor mill in D.C. is that Governor Fallin is the top choice for Secretary of the Interior: "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is emerging as President-elect Donald Trump's leading contender for interior secretary, three people close to Trump's transition team told POLITICO."

If Fallin is tapped for a Cabinet spot, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb will be elevated to fill out her term.

Dan Boren won't run for Governor in 2018

In an announcement today, former Democrat congressman Dan Boren has decided against running for governor in 2018. This is essentially the Oklahoma Democratic Party conceding the race to the GOP, as Boren was their best (and perhaps only) shot at taking the governor's mansion back.

From reporter Sean Murphy with the Associated Press:

Dan Boren decides not to run for Oklahoma governor in 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Dan Boren, a former four-term Democratic congressman from one of Oklahoma's most well-known political families, has decided not to run for the state's open governor seat in 2018.

Boren told The Associated Press that he opted against entering the campaign after spending the past year visiting with civic and business leaders across the state about a potential run.

"At this moment, it is important for me to spend time with my kids," Boren said late Monday. "My desire for public service has not diminished and I believe some day in the future I will enter public life again."

The 43-year-old Boren said he intends to continue working on business development for the Chickasaw Nation and spend time with his two children, ages 6 and 9.

In an interview with the AP earlier this year, Boren had said he was actively exploring a run to replace Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who is prohibited by term limits from seeking a third four-year term in office.

Boren served one term as a state representative before running successfully for Congress in 2004 in the 2nd Congressional District in eastern Oklahoma, a seat he held for eight years before stepping down.

His grandfather, Lyle Boren, was a congressman and his father, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, is a former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator. Dan Boren's first cousin, Janna Little, is married to current House Speaker Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee.

The Oklahoma governor's seat in 2018 is expected to draw interest from strong candidates on both sides of the aisle. Potential Republican candidates include U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, Treasurer Ken Miller and Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Lamb, Miller and Pruitt all are term-limited from their current offices, and Bridenstine has said he wouldn't seek a fourth term in Congress in 2018.

Prominent Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, who ran as an independent for governor in 2002, said Tuesday he is taking a "very serious look" at running as a Republican in 2018.

Possible Democratic candidates include ex-state Rep. Joe Dorman, who won 41 percent of the vote against Fallin in 2014 despite being heavily outspent, and Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman of Del City.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Senator Lankford Releases “Federal Fumbles” Gov’t Waste Report

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford today released his second annual government waste and solutions report called, “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball.” The report represents $247 billion in wasteful and inefficient federal spending and regulations, but also includes solutions to each of the examples of government waste. CLICK HERE to access the report.

“The American people have signaled a bold new direction for Washington with the election of President-elect Donald Trump,” said Lankford. “Although the federal debt wasn’t a major focus during the presidential campaign, it remains a serious impending crisis that must be addressed. In Fiscal Year 2016 alone, we had a $587 billion deficit and our federal debt is now an outrageous $19.5 trillion. To lower the debt, we need to grow the economy, and we must root out inefficiencies, duplication, and wasteful spending wherever they exist. This ‘Federal Fumbles’ report provides specific examples of wasteful spending and unnecessary regulations that are not in the taxpayer’s best interest.”

Lankford released the report during a press conference in Washington, DC this morning. Watch the video below:

Senator Lankford Excerpts from Press Conference:

“This is the way the federal government has dropped the ball, and what we are trying to focus in on, is not trying to pick on one particular agency or entity, but to say we have got to be able to pay attention. We are really dealing with four different main areas as we walk through this; grants that need oversight, regulations and regulators that need oversight, agency bureaucracy and inefficiency, and then a lack of coordination between agencies.

“We are not just trying to raise the problem; we are also trying to raise how you solve it. Whether it is an administration action, whether it is a piece of legislation, whether it is just coordination between the two, or some of those things that have already happened, but we haven’t engaged in it enough to provide the oversight needed to actually get the coordination. Every single one of these identify here is the problem, here is the issue, and here is how to solve it.

“This is not a comprehensive book; this is not trying to list everything in the federal government where there is an issue. We are trying to find some key areas that we can identify, and say here are some problems we have seen, and some things that we find as common ground solutions. This builds on last year’s book.

“We have got duplication issues. We have got problems that are around federal foreign aid, which has been an ongoing issue that we have made recommendations on. When we deal with foreign aid, we should simply deal with foreign aid that is to the benefit of the United States. We don’t think that is an unreasonable request. Instead, at times, we deal with foreign aid, like studying fish bones in Tanzania.”

To do his part to help reduce federal spending in Congress’ own operational budget, Lankford has operated his Senatorial office budget far below the allotted amount for each Senator. Since he was elected to the US Senate in 2014, Lankford has given back $230,000 to the Treasury each year.

Federal Debt Statistics:

  • The federal deficit for Fiscal Year 2016 was $587 billion, and overall debt is now $19.5 Trillion, according to the Treasury Department.
  • The total federal debt of $19,573,444,713,936.79 now equals about $165,575 per household in America.
  • In the eight years of Mr. Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has grown by $9 trillion, nearly matching the total amount of debt accumulated by all of his predecessors.
  • According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the projected federal deficit is expected to be $594 billion in Fiscal Year 2017.
  • Annual deficits are projected to increase above $1 trillion within this decade due to America’s aging population. Between 2010 and 2040, the number of Americans age 65 and older will double – from 41 million to 82 million people. 
Five Examples of Legislative Victories From 2015 “Federal Fumbles” Report:
  1. Subsidized Wind (page 11) – The Wind Production Tax Credit was originally created as a temporary subsidy to help get the wind energy industry off the ground. The industry is now very successful, yet it receives more than $6 billion in federal tax credits every year. Lankford helped secure a provision in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations funding bill, which was signed into law last December, to include a three-year phasedown of the wind energy tax credit. 
  2. 25,000+ Ineligible Families In Public Housing (page 71) – Last year, more than 25,000 families in America received federally-subsidized housing from HUD, despite not being qualified for the program. More than $100 million was spent on families, like one in New York with an annual income of $497,911, who earned far more than the allowable amount for federal assistance. Lankford secured a provision in the annual Senate Appropriations bill for HUD (S. 2844) that requires implementation of an IG report’s recommendations to ensure only those who are entitled to federal housing assistance actually receive it.
  3. Disability is Only for the Disabled (page 119) – The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an enormous backlog in disability cases waiting for an Administrative Law Judge hearing. To expedite the backlog, the SSA created a new system to hear cases, but it was found to be costly and legally uncertain. Lankford confronted the SSA with the cost and risk of that scheme and after threats of a subpoena, the SSA reversed their plan and changed direction. This will save the taxpayer millions of dollars of litigation costs and will speed up the disability process.
  4. Caution: Read Before Eating (page 27) – A recent food-labeling FDA rule requires grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues to add more detailed information on each food item sold. While Americans should have information on the food they eat, existing labeling requirements are already very detailed, and this regulation would burden the agriculture industry with more than $1 billion in compliance costs in the first year alone. Lankford helped secure a provision in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations funding bill, which was signed into law last December, to pause implementation of the rule. 
  5. Taxpayers Right To Know – More than 25 pieces of legislation that address an example of waste in Lankford’s 2015 “Federal Fumbles” report have passed a Committee or one House of Congress, and could progress even further during the lame-duck session of Congress, which ends December 31, 2016. One bill is the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, which passed the House and has bipartisan support in the Senate. This bill will promote budget transparency, which will result in federal spending that is more accountable to the taxpayer, especially for questionable grants, which make up a significant amount of waste examples in Lankford’s 2015 report.

Music Monday: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

This week's Music Monday is the old Christmas carol God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, sung by the a capella group Pentatonix.


Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Plenty To Be Thankful For

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving, those of us in America certainly have a lot to be thankful for. We have freedoms most of the world's inhabitants can only dream about. We have security and peace of mind that the vast majority of the world will never experience. The video below is an emotional reminder of the blessings we so often take for granted.

From FaithWire:
The story began back in 2012 when a Sudanese woman showed up in Forth Worth, Texas, pregnant and with her two small children. Her husband couldn’t make the trip, unable to leave the refugee camp because the couple had lost their marriage papers while fleeing war. They had to find a way to prove they were married and that the children were indeed his. The man, Dyan, feared he would never see his family again.

Here's more from the publisher of the video:
This video represents the next chapter in the now near four-year-old story of our church's ministry to refugees in a North Fort Worth complex. A ministry that began with two of our elder wives, Mary Claire and Molly coming alongside the Sudanese woman in this video, now has over a hundred vetted volunteers serving the diaspora in our region. And, hundreds more participating annually in coat drives, back pack drives, and many opportunities through the year to engage with these families around food and fun.

Xenophobia is nowhere in the heart of God. He is all about the nations! And, His people are called to be as well. For me, this video is a testament to what can happen when God's people respond in simple, yet sacrificial obedience to God's call on the Church, His Bride, to engage and embrace people of all tongues and tribes.

There are nuances in this video most people will miss that to me signal the fingerprint of God. One of them for me is the advertising display hanging over the baggage carousel in the background of the shot when Dyan embraces his wife for the first time in four years. Though many ads were looping endlessly on that monitor, at that very moment the ad read, "Where Dreams take their Course". Another special moment for me was when Dyan dropped to the floor overwhelmed in gratitude toward God, and my camera POV inadvertently became the POV of his three children, at times framed by the side of his son's head. In the background of that shot you see Mary Claire and Molly's husbands with their four sons, American playmates of Dyan's children, transfixed on the miracle for which they themselves prayed these past years.

The final image of this video of Dyan embracing His son, is framed by Mary Claire and Molly's tearful faces. In the distant background is an Algerian refugee family who had just arrived with Dyan. The man with them in the maroon shirt is a staffer for World Relief, another refugee ministry in Fort Worth with whom we serve. A piece of the video that remains in my minds eye, yet in the interest of time lies on the cutting room floor, is a moment when this Algerian mom in the hijab goes over to Dyan's wife and embraces her, greeting each of her children with encouraging words offered in a mutual tongue they share, but which I didn't recognize. What I did recognize however was a shared joy emerging from a shared pain and anguish. And that my friends is the ultimate and beautiful paradox of this four minute glimpse into a shared four-year experience. May this video help you share in their joy and worship the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the Joy set before Him endured the cross that the nations might come to enjoy Him forever.

To paraphrase the Irving Berlin song sung by Bing Crosby in the movie Holiday Inn, "We've got plenty to be thankful for." Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Watch List: Oklahomans who might get Trump appointments

President-elect Donald Trump is in the midst of picking appointees for his Cabinet and various other top government posts. Among the many names being mentioned for different positions are several Oklahomans.

Gov. Mary Fallin                                Businessman Harold Hamm
Secretary of the Interior

The Department of the Interior manages about 75% of all federal public land, is responsible for conservation of natural resources, and operates numerous agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and oversees policy in American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Governor Mary Fallin and Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm are being mentioned as possible picks. Fallin met with Trump on Monday, while it appears that Hamm has had no interview yet.

Secretary of Energy

Despite its name, the Department of Energy actually has more to do with nuclear issues than what you typically think of when you hear "energy" (i.e. oil and gas drilling, etc). Over half of the DOE budget is dedicated to managing our nuclear arsenal and cleaning up atomic-related waste. It also runs the Office of Science, which is focused on research. The DOE has some influence on oil and gas policy, as well as energy-efficiency standards.

Harold Hamm is one of the names being mentioned for this position.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine
NASA Administrator

The NASA Administrator is the highest-ranked official at NASA, and serves as the senior space science advisor to the President of the United States. The Administrator oversees day-to-day operations, manages resources, and sets policy and direction for the agency,

Congressman Jim Bridenstine is one of the rpeople being reported as possible appointees (interesting read here on Bridenstine being the "outsider" pick versus the "insider" options). Before being elected to Congress, Bridenstine was the executive director of the Tulsa Air & Space Museum, and helped with the effort to bring one of the retired space shuttles to Tulsa. Space issues have been one of his priorities in Congress.

Secretary of the Air Force

The Air Force Secretary is the head of the Department of the Air Force, and "is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 660,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families."

Congressman Jim Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot who spent 9 years in active duty and is currently in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, has also been mentioned as being considered for this post.

Matt Pinnell
RNC Chairman

With Reince Priebus being tapped as Trump's Chief-of-Staff, that leaves the RNC chairmanship vacant. While technically the position is elected by the National Committee, the President (or President-elect in this case) will have the real decision making, and the Committee will formally elect his pick. Former OKGOP chairman Matt Pinnell, appointed by Priebus as the RNC's State Party Director, was touted as a frontrunner for the job before the presidential campaign really picked up. Priebus being Trump's chief-of-staff may help Pinnell get the job.

President-elect Trump and T.W. Shannon

Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon had a meeting Sunday with Trump and top aides Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. During the meeting, Shannon said they discussed transportation, infrastructure, poverty, education, and issues related to Western land usage. Watch his interview on Fox & Friends here. UPDATE: rumors of possibly a Bureau of Indian Affairs position?

And for one more Oklahoma, here's what the Tulsa World reports: 'Another Oklahoman, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, said last week that he has reached out to Trump with a request that he be named to the new administration’s Cabinet. “I’m trying to be considered with the new Trump administration to be the secretary of transportation or to be in that office,” he said Nov. 15, acknowledging that he has not heard from Trump or his transition team.'

Monday, November 21, 2016

Music Monday: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'

This week's Music Monday is the third movement from Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132. which he titled "Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit", or "A Convalescent's Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Godhead". Beethoven, completely deaf at the end of his life, wrote this piece after recovering from a serious illness.


Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Maps: 2012 and 2016 Oklahoma presidential results compared

This latest installment in my Election Results Maps series compares the 2016 presidential results to the 2012 presidential results.

Here's the overall picture. In 2012, Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 33.54%. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 36.4%, a 2.86% increase:

The vote percentage shifted in the Democrats direction in 7 counties. In 3 of them, Trump got between 72.34% and 78.1% of the vote, while Romney had received between 77.18% and 85.82%. Trump's smallest spread in these "trending"-Democrat counties was still +10.51% in Oklahoma County.

2016 added a new element in that we had a third-party candidate for the first time since 2000. As a result, both the Republican and Democratic nominees received lower vote percentages than in 2012.

This map shows the increase and decrease in county percentages for Donald Trump compared to Mitt Romney's 2012 showing:

Trump had lower percentages than Romney in 15 counties, with the biggest decrease in McClain County (-7.72%). Of the counties with the top 20 highest increases, 16 came from counties in the 2nd Congressional District.

This map shows the changes in county percentages for Hillary Clinton compared to Barack Obama's 2012 figures:

McClain County was the only place where Clinton bested Obama's 2012 percentage, increasing by 3% (from 14.18% to 17.18%). She fell by double-digits in 19 counties, with the largest coming in Mayes County (-16.3%).

Monday, November 14, 2016

Music Monday: Hymn to the Fallen

This week's Music Monday is Hymn to the Fallen from the film Saving Private Ryan, composed by John Williams.


Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Election Results Map: Presidential Race

Continuing with my update to the Election Results Maps series, here is the presidential race.

Obviously, Donald Trump crushed it in Oklahoma.

Trump's worst counties and Clinton's best counties:

  • Oklahoma: Trump 51.69%, Clinton 41.18%, Johnson 7.13%
  • Cleveland: Trump 57.14%, Clinton 35.48%, Johnson 7.38%
  • Tulsa: Trump 58.40%, Clinton 35.55%, Johnson 6.05%
Trump's best counties and Clinton's worst counties:
  • Cimarron: Trump 89.32%, Clinton 6.50%, Johnson 4.18%
  • Beaver: Trump 88.82%, Clinton 7.87%, Johnson 3.31%
  • Ellis: Trump 88.17%, Clinton 8.49%, Johnson 3.34%
Johnson's best counties:
  • Payne: 8.36%
  • Cleveland: 7.38%
  • Oklahoma: 7.13%
Johnson's worst counties:
  • McCurtain: 2.50%
  • Dewey: 2.67%
  • Atoka: 2.78%
Hillary Clinton received single-digit percentages in 8 counties (all in northwestern Oklahoma). Donald Trump got over 80% in 17 counties (mostly western Oklahoma plus Atoka and McCurtain in the southeast). His smallest lead was still a healthy 10.51% in Oklahoma County.

I'll try to get around to comparing these results to the 2012 results sometime soon.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Election Results Map: State Question 790

Continuing with my update to the Election Results Maps series, here is State Question 790.

The 'Yes' vote won only 10 counties (average 'yes' vote of 51.56%), all west of I-35 and mainly in the northwest. 61 counties rejected the question (average 'yes' vote of 44.65%). Opposition was strongest in the southeast and the OKC/Tulsa metros.

Election Results Map: State Questions 780 & 781

Continuing with my update to the Election Results Maps series, here are State Questions 780 and 781.

First, SQ780:

31 counties voted in favor ('yes' vote average of 55.29%), while 46 voted against ('yes' vote average of 43.72%). Support was primarily confied to the areas with moderate-to-large cities, with the top three counties being Oklahoma (69.88%), Cleveland (65.92%), and Tulsa (64.68%).

Now, SQ781:

Just 21 counties voted in favor (average vote of 55.52%), while 56 counties opposed (average 'yes' vote of 44.22%). Once again, the top three counties were Oklahoma (66.42%), Cleveland (63.28%), and Tulsa (62.40%).

This was the most indecisive of the state questions, as the 'yes' vote in 42 counties ranged from 45% to 55%. The far northwest and the southeast were most strongly against, while the metros were the only areas of strong support.

Election Results Map: State Question 779

Continuing with my update to the Election Results Maps series, here is State Question 779.

The 'Yes' vote won only 8 counties (average 'yes' vote of 51.55%), and those very narrowly. 69 counties rejected the measure (average 'yes' vote of 38.62%). Opposition, while widespread, was strongest in central and northwestern portions of the state.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election Results Map: State Question 777

The 2016 election is over, so it's time to update my Election Results Maps series. First up, State Question 777.

The 'Yes' vote won overwhelmingly in western Oklahoma, but lost by large margins in the metropolitan areas. The three worst counties for SQ777 unfortunately were the most populous: Oklahoma County (lost by 38.62%), Cleveland County (lost by 39.88%), and Tulsa County (lost by 42.87%).

40 counties voted in favor ('yes' vote average of 61.93%), while 37 voted against ('yes' vote average of 42.42%).

Ex-legislator Pettigrew tapped to serve on Trump's healthcare reform committee

An Oklahoma insurance professional and former lawmaker will serve on the new committee formed by President-Elect Donald Trump to evaluate change to the nation’s health care system.

Wayne Pettigrew, the owner of Vanguard Benefits Group was contacted by officials with the Trump transitional team on Wednesday. The committee’s first meetings are to begin as early as next week.
Trump has vowed to “Repeal and Replace Obamacare” which is the nation’s law that requires individuals to purchase health care insurance coverage or face tax penalties. The law also has penalties for companies with over 50 employees that fail to offer compliant health insurance coverage.

Pettigrew said that he was honored to be asked to serve on the committee but expects the meetings to be intense. “I’m looking forward to serving but there is a lot of work to be done and a lot to evaluate and not much time before Congress goes back in session in January”, said Pettigrew. The meetings will be held in Washington DC.

Pettigrew is the immediate past president of the Oklahoma Association of Health Underwriters and has had experience in designing health insurance plans for over 30 years.

Pettigrew served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1994 to 2004 and was the author of the state’s Insure Oklahoma law that uses federal matching funds to leverage employer and employee dollars to provide health insurance to lower income employees and individuals. He was a Republican candidate for US Congress in 2012.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

All judges retained, but lose at least one county

Oklahoma votes on whether or not to keep judges on the Supreme Court, Court of Civil Appeals, and Court of Criminal Appeals. Never in state history has a judge or justice lost a retention vote, and the lowest statewide percentage a judge got this time around was 58.71%.

However, every judge on the ballot lost at least one county. Here's the list, with their statewide percentage in parentheses.

James Winchester (61.32%) lost Atoka, Cimarron, Hughes, Pushmataha, Roger Mills.
Douglas Combs (58.71%) lost Atoka, Cimarron, Hughes, Kingfisher, Latimer, McCurtain, Okfuskee, Pushmataha, Roger Mills.

Tom Thornbrugh (61.03%) lost Atoka.
John Fischer (60.42%) lost Atoka, Roger Mills.
Larry Joplin (60.68%) lost Atoka.

Clancy Smith (59.93%) lost Atoka.
Robert Hudson (61.31%) lost Atoka, Roger Mills,

As you can see, Atoka County was the lone county to vote "NO" on all judges. Here's the Atoka County vote:

CMA Strategies celebrates 100% win rate

CMA Strategies Clients Celebrate Big Wins on Election Night

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The consulting team at CMA Strategies led their clients to election success last night, winning every race they were involved in.

After being involved with the issue for six years, the CMA team helped navigate State Question 792 to victory, resulting in unprecedented modernization to the state’s alcohol laws. CMA was responsible for the campaign’s strategy and messaging, including advocating to voters that passage would ultimately benefit the Oklahoma economy and provide convenience for consumers. CMA was also involved in the legislative effort to get the state question on the ballot. SQ 792 passed with 66% of the vote.

Another CMA Strategies client who came out of election night with a win was the Oklahoma Deserves Better Coalition, the group who advocated against the education sales tax increase. With only weeks to put together a coalition, strategy, message and a team to execute the plan, CMA turned the tables on SQ 779.

In late-September, polls showed the state question easily passing with more than 60% of vote. However, the team at CMA successfully conveyed to voters through an aggressive paid and earned media campaign the holes in the ballot language. The campaign focused on the impact passage would ultimately have on the economy, without helping teachers the way it was promised to. On election night, SQ 779 failed with 59% of the vote.

CMA also worked for the independent expenditure group, the Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund, which had a very successful night, electing 14 candidates supportive of school choice to the Oklahoma Legislature, demonstrating the people of Oklahoma overwhelmingly support needed changes to the education system that empower parents to choose the highest quality education for their children.

The Maintain OKC Schools Committee, formed to help pass three bond issues benefitting Oklahoma City Public Schools, also worked with CMA. The campaign focused on the “Yes the Yellow Ballot” message highlighting the need to protect funding for school infrastructure, transportation and technology. Each of the bond issues passed with more than the 60% of the vote required.

Other CMA 2016 general election clients included Congressman Tom Cole, Congressman Mike Pompeo, and the Oklahoma Judicial Information Network. All CMA clients were victorious on election night, leading the firm to a 100% win rate.

CMA Strategies is led by principals Sharon Caldwell and Pat McFerron and associates Matt Ball and Keili McEwen. Alyssa Loza, Mike Gunter and Karla Jackson provide creative and administrative support.

AFP-OK comments on SQ779 failure

[Last night, the people of Oklahoma have spoken. This summer, Americans for Prosperity began an educational initiative to inform citizens across our state about State Question 779.

Thanks to our dedicated staff and grassroots volunteers, our state chapter engaged over 400,000 Oklahomans, including 150,000 direct citizen contacts, to educate our friends and neighbors about the proposal's tax, potential revenue distribution, and accountability provisions.

Whatever the result, it was our mission to inform Oklahomans about this important issue and to help them better understand how this proposal could affect families and businesses across our state.

We will continue to fight for Oklahoma taxpayers and to promote the ideals of limited government, free enterprise, and economic freedom in the days ahead.

Many thanks for all of your continued support in the name of a more free America.

God Bless Oklahoma!

John Tidwell
Oklahoma State Director, Americans For Prosperity

Oklahoma Republicans make big legislative gains

Today's election has handed Oklahoma Republicans some big gains in the state legislature.

All three Democrat seats were taken by the GOP - SD1 (northeast corner), SD9 (Muskogee and Tahlequah), and SD13 (Ada area). All Republican seats were held. The State Senate is now 42 Republicans, 6 Democrats.

Senate Democrats can trade in the caucus van and now get a car.

Republicans picked up HD3, HD8, HD12, HD13, HD16, and HD19. Democrats picked up HD87 and HD93. The State House is now 75 Republicans, 26 Democrats.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

President Donald J. Trump

In a stunning comeback, Donald Trump appears set to win the 2016 Presidential election, and will become the 45th President of the United States of America.

As of 11:30pm, Trump has flipped Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and the biggest surprise, Wisconsin. He almost certainly has also flipped Maine's 2nd Congressional District. Trump held Clinton off in North Carolina, and is still leading in Arizona. Assuming he wins Arizona, that puts him at 270 electoral votes.

He's also ahead in Michigan, New Hampshire, and has a 2,000 vote lead in Pennsylvania. If he holds Arizona and Maine's CD2, he can lose those three and still win.


OCPA Impact comments on failure of SQ779

Statement from Dave Bond, CEO of OCPA Impact, Inc., on the voting results on SQ 779 and the continuing need for a teacher pay raise in Oklahoma:

"Today's results on 779 are only a partial victory. Yes, working Oklahoma families have been successfully shielded from being forced to pay the highest sales tax burden in the nation, and we're very pleased with that outcome.

"But the results are only a partial victory because the need for a pay raise for public school classroom teachers across Oklahoma is still very, very real.

"We spent the entire past legislative session at the Oklahoma Capitol advocating for a teacher pay raise without a tax increase on working Oklahomans, and we will push for the same objective at the Capitol this coming session.

"We look forward to working with President Boren, and with others across Oklahoma who have served as strong voices for increasing teacher salaries, toward realizing this common goal without increasing taxes at a time when our state and our economy can least afford it."

Vote Today

Voting in Oklahoma begins at 7:00am and closes at 7:00pm. If you don't know where you are supposed to vote, the State Election Board has a handy page to help you.

Here are my recommendations again (in more detail here):

President: Anybody but Clinton
U.S. Senate: James Lankford
U.S. House: Republican
State House: Republican
State Senate: Republican
Muskogee County Sheriff: Roger Posey
Supreme Court - James Winchester: NO
Supreme Court - Douglas Combs: NO
Court of Criminal Appeals - Clancy Smith: No
Court of Criminal Appeals - Robert Hudson: YES
Court of Civil Appeals - Tom Thornbrugh: Yes
Court of Civil Appeals - John Fischer: No
Court of Civil Appeals - Larry Joplin: No
State Question 776: Yes
State Question 777: YES
State Question 779: NO
State Question 780: No
State Question 781: No
State Question 790: YES
State Question 792: No

Monday, November 07, 2016

'Yes on 779' Continues Misleading Campaign

In a desperate move, the Yes on 779 campaign, Our Children, Our Future (OCOF), unsuccessfully sought to stifle the truth about 779 by sending a cease and desist letter to Oklahoma television stations asking them to quit airing ads which explain that less than half of the money raised by 779 is protected for teacher pay.  When the stations did not pull the ad, OCOF doubled-down and falsely claimed the ads were pulled anyway, citing KXII, a station in the Ada/Ardmore/Sherman media market as having pulled the ads.

Proving this latest lie from the campaign is an email sent at 7:51pm on November 7, from Todd Bates, General Sales Manager of KXII states the “schedule is currently running as booked.”  
The lie that a television station had pulled the ad for being false is just the latest is a series of lies from OCOF.  OCOF continues to mislead voters by claiming ‘every penny will be audited’ when their own ballot language clearly exempts the more than 100 million dollars a year dedicated to higher education funding. It is clear OCOF is either intentionally misleading voters or unable to understand the constitutional amendment as written.

The OCOF continue to falsely claim 60% of the revenue generated by the sales tax will go to teacher pay when the language says it can go to teacher pay or “otherwise address teacher and staff shortages.”  There is absolutely nothing requiring that the “otherwise addressing” staff shortages would mean teacher pay. This could be used for any variety of administrative functions, such as recruiting trips, advertising, or salaries for principals and other non-superintendent administrators.

OCOF and the supporters are clearly afraid voters are seeing what 779 is:  another scam designed by political leaders along the lines of the lottery, casino gaming and HB 1017 – all programs promised to fix education.  Tax Bill 779 falls in line with these other efforts by using k-12 education as a Trojan Horse to accomplish a different end:  in this case, it is the close to $400 million a year that is not protected for teacher pay.

For more information, visit

Speaker Hickman comments on SQ777

If SQ777 is passed by voters, Oklahoma would join Missouri and North Dakota where similar constitutional amendments were passed in 2014 and 2012, respectively, with no reports of the negative issues opponents to SQ777 argue will occur. SQ777 will allow farmers to defend themselves against unjust laws and regulations passed by a future Legislature or statutory changes placed on the ballot through a petition drive by groups like PETA, the Sierra Club and the United States Humane Society who are opposed to SQ777.

Opponents argue that Oklahomans already have a right to farm so this amendment is unnecessary.  It is true that agriculture is not under attack today by those who serve in the Oklahoma Legislature, but as agriculture continues to become more efficient, fewer of us in agriculture are required to feed a growing number of people around the world. As a dwindling number of farmers tends to a growing number of acres to make ends meet, rural communities lose population. With each new census every 10 years, we see a drastic decline in the number of Oklahoma legislators directly involved in production agriculture, who know that food doesn't come from a grocery store. Small producers to typical farm acreages to larger, commercial operators will be equally protected by SQ777, however family farms who typically don’t have the finances to fight extreme animal rights or anti-agriculture groups who attack them would particularly benefit from this added safety net.

If you believe the current rights of Oklahomans to farm and ranch should be preserved for future generations, you will want to vote YES on SQ777.  If you believe extreme animal rights and anti-agriculture groups along with a growing number of legislators with little or no understanding of agriculture do not pose a threat to current farming and ranching practices, you will want to vote NO on SQ777.

Rep. Jeffrey W. Hickman
Speaker of the House
State of Oklahoma

My 2016 Election Predictions

It's election eve, so time for some predictions.

Presidential race: 

Click the map to create your own at

Trump pulls out wins in North Carolina, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Maine's 2nd Congressional District, but falls barely short in Florida, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Michigan and New Mexico are also closer than expected, but Clinton wins them both.

Results: Clinton 297 electoral votes (49.9% popular vote), Trump 241 EVs (45.4%), Johnson 2.9%, Stein 0.9%, McMullin 0.4% (also gets 2nd place in Utah), all others combine for 0.5%.

I was a little too optimistic with McCain and Romney, so we'll see how this time goes. I honestly could see it going either way. There are even 269-269 tie scenarios that are plausible, though highly unlikely.

U.S. Senate:
Republicans Kirk (IL), Toomey (PA) and Johnson (WI) lose, but the NV seat goes red. Republicans maintain a slim majority, 52R/48D.

U.S. House:
Republicans maintain their majority, losing only about 10 seats. 237R/198D.

State House:
Republicans pick up Democrat-held seats in HD3 (LeFlore County), HD4 (Cherokee County), HD12 (Wagoner County), HD13 (Muskogee/McIntosh counties), and HD16 (Okmulgee/Muskogee/Wagoner/Tulsa counties). Democrats pick up Republican-held seats in HD26 (Shawnee area), HD87 (OKC), and HD93 (OKC). Net GOP gain of two seats makes it 73R/28D.

State Senate: 
Republicans pick up Democrat-held seats in SD9 (Muskogee/Tahlequah) and SD13 (Ada area), while losing SD39 (Tulsa). Net GOP gain of one returns it to 40R/8D.

State Questions: all pass 
SQ776 - passes 79%-21%
SQ777 - incredible rural strength beats urban doubts, passes 53%-47%
SQ779 - the too-late campaign against fails to stop it, passes 59%-41%
SQ780 - passes 69%-31%
SQ781 - passes 66%-34%
SQ790 - confusion about the measure makes it fairly close, passes 55%-45%
SQ792 - passes 63%-37%

Those are my unscientific thoughts on the final results. Leave a comment with yours.

Bridenstine: Trust Trump... to be the better President


The question I was asked to address is: Whom do you trust?

Trust involves seeing a high probability that your expectations will be met, based on a consistent series of behaviors, with a low level of risk or uncertainty.

Someone with a very short track record like Donald Trump, having only been a politician for a year and a half, is harder to predict than Hillary Clinton, who has been an active politician for over 30 years.

I see a very high probability that Hillary Clinton will continue her proven pattern of behavior in pursuing a very liberal, activist agenda supported by the radical left and an unhinged media.

Mrs. Clinton blames all of her scandals on partisan politics. In the 1990’s, she blamed the sexual predations of her husband on a “vast right wing conspiracy.” She publicly called her husband’s victims “trailer trash,” “narcissist looney toons,” and “bimbos.” At one point she even said she would “crucify her” when describing how she would go after President Clinton’s victims. We can trust Hillary Clinton to continue smearing all who stand in her way.

Mrs. Clinton places personal ambition ahead of national interests and even national security. The evidence of this is visible in her illegal usage of a private server to handle scores of classified emails, her effort to obfuscate the events that precipitated the attack in Benghazi, and her use of Bill Clinton Inc. to make herself personally very wealthy from foreign governments. We can trust that she will continue to place selfish ambition above her country.

Mrs. Clinton stridently believes that a baby is not a life until the moment of birth, further stating that a person has no rights before that moment. In an era when scientists acknowledge that a baby’s heart begins beating between 14 and 21 days and a baby can feel pain at 20 weeks, we can trust that Hillary Clinton will continue to deny the science.

Mrs. Clinton favors open borders. We have seen her and other liberals fortify this position by consistently opposing controlling our borders unless illegal aliens are given a path to citizenship. We can trust Hillary Clinton will continue to conflate border security with amnesty.

Mrs. Clinton believes in a single-payer, government controlled healthcare system that she began advocating decades ago. Competition, leading to innovations and cost reductions, will be eliminated.

Imagine Veterans Administration health care for all Americans, including higher costs, longer waits, and zero choices. We can trust Hillary Clinton to continue advancing terrible health-care policy.

No one can deny that there is a high probability your expectations will be met with Mrs. Clinton, including higher taxes, more regulation, and bigger, more intrusive government control. This is based on a consistent series of behaviors over a long period of time.

In contrast, Donald Trump has spent his adult life outside of politics. His persona reflects a businessman involved in the vulgar entertainment business and the declining moral culture in the United States, all perpetuated by an indecent, irresponsible media.

That media, in fact, gave Donald Trump his national fame. Where the media once lauded him, they now feign outrage to advance a radical leftist agenda.

We can trust the media to cover every unpolished statement of the businessman if he becomes President.

Donald Trump campaigned on lowering taxes, reducing regulation, protecting religious liberty, and appointing judges who will defend the Constitution. If Mr. Trump follows that direction, I trust that he will be the better President of the United States.

I also trust that the media will never let you know that he has done anything good.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

My Picks for the 2016 General Election

With the election literally around the corner, here is how I plan to vote. I've focused on what will be on the ballot in Muskogee County, but also included some of the important, competitive legislative races throughout the state.

President: Anybody but Clinton. I've previously voiced my opinion about Trump. Since Oklahoma will overwhelmingly vote for Trump, I will either leave that line empty or cast a protest vote. (Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. - John Quincy Adams)
U.S. Senate: James Lankford
U.S. House: Republican nominees
State House: I'll focus on the Muskogee-area races, plus a few competitive races that I know something about the candidates.
  • Rep. George Faught (HD14 - Muskogee/Cherokee counties)
  • Avery Frix (HD13 - Muskogee/McIntosh counties) - Democrat-held seat
  • Kevin McDugle (HD12 - Wagoner County) - Democrat-held seat
  • Bob Ed Culver (HD4 - Cherokee County) - Democrat-held seat
  • Steven McGowan (HD1 - McCurtain County) - Democrat-held seat
  • Matt Jackson (HD85 - Oklahoma County) - Democrat-held seat
State Senate: I'll focus on the Muskogee-area races, plus a few competitive races that I know something about the candidates.
Muskogee County Sheriff: Roger Posey.

Supreme Court - James Winchester: NO. Our entire Supreme Court needs to be thrown out for striking down pro-life measures.
Supreme Court - Douglas Combs: NO. Our entire Supreme Court needs to be thrown out for striking down pro-life measures.

Court of Criminal Appeals - Clancy Smith: No.
Court of Criminal Appeals - Robert Hudson: Yes.
Court of Civil Appeals - Tom Thornbrugh: Yes.
Court of Civil Appeals - John Fischer: No.
Court of Civil Appeals - Larry Joplin: No.

For more on the judges, read this from OCPAC and this from Steve Fair. If history is made and a judge loses his retention election, the Governor appoints a new judge.

State Question 776: For. Would reiterate that the death penalty is not unconstitutional nor "cruel and unusual punishment".
State Question 777: FOR. This measure is intended to protect farmers and ranchers from undue government interference and from outside groups seeking to hurt agriculture in Oklahoma. Contrary to the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from the out-of-state animal-rights/environmentalist groups fighting this, at the very worst this is a "do-little" measure. This won't hurt small farmers. Farmers won't suddenly decide to poison the water and air (like you, they need good water and good air). The sky won't fall. Foreign corporations, already banned, won't be dropping a pig farm next to your suburban house. However, if SQ777 fails, you can be sure the animal-rights/environmentalists will charge into Oklahoma to restrict farming and ranching.
State Question 779: AGAINST. A 22% increase in state sales tax to fill the pockets of higher education, under the misleading guise of "teacher pay raises" is not what Oklahoma needs. Read more from AFP and OCPA Impact.
State Question 780: Against. Many of the drug crime reforms in this measure were addressed by the legislature this past session. Let's see how those work before making further changes.
State Question 781: Against. Michael Bates makes a good argument for a 'no' vote (although David Van Risseghem has good points in favor; if you do vote for 780, you should vote for 781).
State Question 790: FOR. This would remove a section in the state constitution that has been used to infringe on religious liberties.
State Question 792: Against. As someone who does not nor will ever consume liquor, I was a little torn on this. 792 would institute some semi-free-market(ish) reforms, however, if it passes this would not take effect until October 1st, 2018. Whichever way you vote, you're voting for some aspect of the liquor industry. Reading the fine print on this seems like it replaces one set of complicated restrictions with another set. Frankly, I'm surprised the state Supreme Court didn't strike this down as 'logrolling'.

If you need more information on the Judges on the ballot, see these posts.
If you need more information on the State Questions, see these posts. For SQ777 in particular, read these. For SQ779 in particular, read these.

Pro-779 ad makes false, blatantly misleading claims

This week, the group Oklahoma’s Children, Our Future unveiled an ad supporting State Question 779, the permanent, 1% statewide sales tax on the Nov. 8 ballot in Oklahoma.

Together, the ad and an accompanying post on the group’s website make four claims, three of which are most certainly false, while the fourth is blatantly misleading.

Claim #1: 60% of the 779 tax money “will go toward teachers.”

The Facts: It’s shocking that 779’s supporters are trying to present as a positive that 40% of the money from 779’s sales tax increase – 40 cents of every dollar taken from working Oklahomans – would not be spent on teachers.

The reality, though, is even worse: only 39% – not 60%, as the pro-779 ad suggests – of the 779 tax money would be required to go to teacher salaries or benefits. It’s possible, though not guaranteed, this number could ultimately be higher, but there is nothing in 779’s fine print requiring more than 39% of the 779 tax money to go to teacher compensation.

Let’s clarify how we calculated 39%. Proponents of 779 say the measure will bring in $615 million in new tax money each year, via 779’s sales tax increase on working Oklahomans. According to the National Education Assoc. and the Oklahoma State Dept. of Education, there are approx. 42,027 public school classroom teachers in Oklahoma. To provide each with a $5,000 salary increase, factoring in a multiplier of .17 for FICA and other employment-related costs, would cost $245 million.

A simple division calculation reveals that the cost of providing the $5,000 teacher salary boost – $245 million – is 39% of the total 779 is projected to generate – $615 million.

245 / 615 = 39%

After the teacher pay raise dollars are taken out, this particular pot of 779 money – one of five different pots detailed in 779’s fine print – would have $123.9 million remaining.

In 779’s fine print, the only requirement for this $123.9 million is that it be spent to “otherwise address and prevent teacher and certified instructional staff shortages in the manner most suited to local district circumstances and needs.”

That’s it. No requirement to hire more teachers. No requirement to spend the money on teacher salaries, benefits or other compensation.

Experience suggests that, while some local school district officials would use these extra funds to hire more teachers or further increase teacher compensation, others would not.

Verdict: The claim by Oklahoma’s Children, Our Future is false. Only 39% of the 779 tax money is required to go to teacher compensation.

Claim #2: “Every single penny” of the 779 tax money has annual audit requirements built in.

The Facts: In its descriptions of the five different pots of 779 tax money, 779’s fine print only includes audit requirements for two of the pots – the pot from which the teacher pay raise funds will be drawn, and the pot designated for “programs, opportunities, or reforms” to improve reading, boost high school graduation rates, and “increase college and career readiness.”

The other three pots – the $118.3 million lump sum for Higher Education, the $19.9 million lump sum for Career Tech, and the $49.2 million lump sum for the State Dept. of Education – feature no audit requirements whatsoever.

After everything is tabulated, 70% of the 779 tax money will include audit requirements, while 30% will not.

Verdict: The claim by Oklahoma’s Children, Our Future is false. Only 70% of the 779 tax money includes audit requirements.

Claim #3: The 779 tax money cannot be spent on “administrative overhead.”

The Facts: From 779’s fine print:

“None of these monies distributed from the (779 fund) to common school districts may be used to add superintendent positions or increase superintendents’ salaries.”

That’s it. No restrictions on adding positions or increasing salaries for assistant superintendents, administrative assistants, principals, vice-principals, assistant principals, curriculum directors, IT support staff, coaches, program directors, communications officers, chiefs of staff, athletic directors, etc.

Verdict: The claim by Oklahoma’s Children, Our Future is false. Portions of the 779 tax money may be spent on administrative overhead.

Claim #4: Since 779 would be locked into the Oklahoma Constitution, the 779 tax money would be kept out of “the meddling hands of politicians.”

The Facts: Disparaging politicians and their “meddling hands” is a time-honored American tradition, practiced with great wit by Mark Twain, Will Rogers and other luminaries.

In this case, however, it’s merely a ploy to distract voters away from the fact that 779 will: (a) require all Oklahomans, regardless of income, to pay the highest permanent sales tax burden in the nation, and (b) provide state government bureaucrats and school administrators with the constitutional protection to spend up to 60% of the 779 tax money on stuff other than teacher compensation.

Ultimately, whether 779 is approved or rejected on the ballot may come down to Oklahoma voters determining which group they trust the most … or, perhaps, distrust the least: publicly-elected politicians at the state Capitol, or un-elected state government bureaucrats and school administrators.

For many Oklahoma voters, that may be a tough call. Either way, the claim by Oklahoma’s Children, Our Future is blatantly misleading.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Oklahoma delegation, top Republicans on state questions

With the election days away, some of Oklahoma's congressional delegation and top Republicans have weighed in on the various state questions on the ballot. Here's the list I've been able to find or obtain. If you are aware of a position that I have missed, let me know.

I reached out to the following officials (and others who did not respond) and specifically requested comments on SQ777 and SQ779, and received some additional input on SQ790. No one took a public position on the other state questions.

SQ777 - "Right to Farm"

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe: Supports, featured in ad for 'Yes' campaign
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn: Supports, featured in ad for 'Yes' campaign
U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine: taking no position on SQ777, but sounded as if he leaned against it in a Nov. 1st KFAQ radio interview (starting at 34:50)
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin: Supports SQ777 - Oct. 26th radio interview on KFAQ (starting at 10:55)
U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas: "Congressman Lucas intends to vote for SQ 777 (Right to Farm). While he doesn't believe that adoption of SQ 777 will have a radical impact on the agriculture industry in Oklahoma, he is concerned that if the question fails we will leave the door open for anti-ag and anti-farm groups to come in and push restrictive proposals to overregulate our industry, similar to what we’ve seen in other states."
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole: "Congressman Cole has a policy of not publicly commenting on state issues. He has cast his absentee ballot and voted on SQ777 like any Oklahoma voter, but he does not intend to release a public statement about any of the state questions."
U.S. Rep. Steve Russell: did not return my request for comments.
State House Speaker Jeff Hickman: Supports SQ777 - see response to our request.

SQ779 - sales tax increase for education

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine: Opposes SQ779 - Nov. 1st radio interview on KFAQ (starting around 16:45)
U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas: "Congressman Lucas usually doesn’t weigh in on state questions. SQ777 was an exception since he received so many requests due to his deep background in agriculture and his former role as chairman of the House Ag Committee."
Lieut. Gov. Todd Lamb: Opposes SQ779 - he spoke out against it as early as June, perhaps making him the first prominent opponent of the measure.

SQ790 - "Blaine Amendment" repeal

U.S. Sen. James Lankford: "Yes on SQ790 for religious liberty." Spoke in favor of the measure at a recent event with Oklahoma pastors, and co-wrote an op-ed with Lt. Gov. Lamb.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb: Supports featured in TV ad, and co-wrote an op-ed with Sen. Lankford.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

State Supt. Hofmeister, 4 others charged with conspiracy, violating campaign finance laws

From TheFrontier:

State Education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, political powerbroker Fount Holland and the head of the Oklahoma Education Association along with two other people were charged four counts Thursday with violating state campaign laws related to Hofmeister’s 2014 campaign, records show.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater filed the charges late Thursday against the five, alleging they took part in a conspiracy to funnel corporate money through education lobbying groups to a dark money group that was supposed to remain independent from Hofmeister. However numerous texts and emails to and from Hofmeister and the other defendants included in an affidavit for the charges, obtained by The Frontier, indicate that did not occur.

Charged were:

  • Hofmeister, 52, who defeated then-State Superintendent Janet Barresi in 2014.
  • Holland is a political advisor and founder of AH Strategies and claims on his website to have represented more than 100 elected officials in Oklahoma today.
  • Stephanie Milligan, 37, a political advisor to Hofmeister and officer of the Alexander Companies, formed by Chad Alexander, a former lobbyist who also worked with Holland.
  • Lela Odom, 68, former executive director of the Oklahoma Education Association, a group that lobbies for salary and benefits for education employees, as well as public education funding.
  • Steven Crawford, 67, former executive director for the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, a not-for-profit association for Oklahoma school administrators.

The charges would be felonies that carry up to 10 years in jail if prosecutors are able to prove the five conspired to violate laws setting limits on state campaign contributions.

Read more here.

Letter to Editor: Vote No on SQ779

Vote No on State Question 779

Education funding should be a top concern for Oklahomans, but the one cent statewide sales tax proposed by State Question 779 is not the way to do it. Oklahoma already has one of the highest sales tax in the nation and this extra cent would make us the highest. At a time when local retailers are hurting to compete with tax-free online competition, this tax hike will push even more consumers away from shopping locally.

There would be further negative impacts on our city and county governments who get a majority of their revenues from sales tax. If 779 passes our sales tax would be hiked to over 10 percent statewide on July 1, 2017 and from that date on it will become very difficult for cities and counties to pass sales tax bonds. A quarter of a cent bond issues to improve city streets or public services that may have seemed affordable to voters in the past, would now become very difficult to pass.

Please vote no on 779 because of the damage to our local economy and the future negative effects on city and county governments.

Martin Updike (Fort Gibson)