Attorney General Scott Pruitt is seeking information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on promises the agencies made to investigate religious organizations and churches as part of a settlement agreement with an atheist organization.
The Attorney General’s Office has learned that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is claiming it has reached an agreement with the IRS and DOJ to settle an ongoing federal lawsuit by the organization. The lawsuit sought IRS enforcement of prohibitions against churches endorsing specific political candidates.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt has sent letters to both the IRS and DOJ seeking information on the settlement agreement, communications between the federal agencies and the atheist organization, and documents outlining the policies and procedures of both agencies for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations.
“The founders of our country devoted the First Amendment of our constitution to ensuring the right to exercise our faith. The First Amendment also enshrines our right to free speech which at its core protects our ability to engage in the political process. At the intersection of those two fundamental rights lies the right of religious organizations to encourage their members to engage in the political process in a manner consistent with the core tenets of their religions. It’s alarming to think the IRS and DOJ have entered into an agreement to investigate religious organizations to settle a lawsuit with an atheist organization bent on destroying those rights,” Attorney General Pruitt said.
The manager of the Patrice Douglas for Congress campaign charged today that her opponent, Steve Russell, ”is being less than honest about his voting record during his years in political office.”
“Like most politicians, former Senator Russell is not being forthright about his voting record,” said Sam Fosdick, campaign manager for Patrice Douglas’ campaign.
“When people have asked him about his vote for Common Core, he seriously misleads the people of the fifth district and says he never voted for it,” said Fosdick.
“Just last night at a debate sponsored by the Oklahoma City Republican Women’s club, Russell said he voted for a teacher pay raise, not Common Core. Maybe he didn’t read the bills he voted for, and maybe he still hasn’t, because it very clearly states that Common Core is in that bill.”
Fosdick is referring to Senate Bill 2033, which was the bill that forced Common Core upon Oklahomans in 2010. And, while he was in the State Senate, Russell clearly voted for SB 2033 that mandated the state Board of Education adopt the Common Core standards, despite Conservatives who unsuccessfully rallied against the bill. The bill states:
“By August 1, 2010, the State Board of Education shall adopt revisions to the subject matter curriculum adopted by the State Board for English Language Arts and Mathematics as is necessary to align the curriculum with the K-12 Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The revised curriculum shall reflect the K-12 Common Core State Standards in their entirety and may include additional standards as long as the amount of additional standards is not more than fifteen percent (15%) of the K-12 Common Core State Standards.”
Fosdick said the people of Oklahoma’s Fifth District deserve honesty when it comes to voting records and the issues and the video from last night clearly shows the length at which he will go to mislead voters.
“I certainly understand that Steve Russell does not want to admit that he voted to impose Common Core on Oklahoma, but facts are facts. He supported Common Core when he was in the senate, and he needs to own up to it and explain to the voters why he supported such a terrible policy.”
Governor Fallin today received notice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the Fort Sill facility for illegal immigrant minors will be closed on Friday, August 8.
The facility has been holding unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the United States’ southern border since June 13.
Fallin said she was pleased by the announcement, but worried the Obama administration might seek to reopen the facility sometime in the future.
“I am pleased that the Obama Administration is finally listening to the people of Oklahoma and acting to close the Fort Sill facility for illegal immigrants. However, I am disturbed the administration chose to renew its lease on the facility, thereby preserving the option of reopening it in the future.
“We know that illegal immigration naturally dips in the summer months, as temperatures rise at our southern border. Because of that decrease, the federal government has been able to empty the facility at Fort Sill and process the illegal immigrants they have brought to Oklahoma. There is nothing to stop this administration, however, from reopening the shelter at Fort Sill later in the year as the number of illegal immigrants apprehended naturally increases. I am calling on President Obama to set the record straight once and for all: will this facility be reopened, or can we trust that it has closed for good?
“As I have said for weeks, opening this facility at all was an improper use of our military base. It was a public health hazard. It was also an attempt to find a band-aid solution to a much larger border crisis caused by President Obama’s unwillingness to enforce our laws and secure our borders. I am relieved – as are many Oklahomans – to hear this facility will be closed by the end of the week. We can now use it as it was intended: as a military resource to house and train soldiers.
“Moving forward, I would like the president to give his word that this facility will remain closed permanently.”
It’s not often that a political party or campaign brags about a poll that shows its candidate down 13 points, but that’s what Oklahoma Democrats did this week.
The state party sent out a fundraising email headlining a poll showing incumbent GOP Gov. Mary Fallin at 44 percent.
What the e-mail didn’t mention is that the same poll has Democrat Joe Dorman at 31 percent.
The poll followed two others that had Fallin leading by 5 points and either 9 or 10 points, depending on whether “leaning to” responses are counted.
In an actual election, a 5- to 13-point margin translates into a fairly easy Fallin victory, end of story.
In the world of political number crunching, though, such poll results are reason for queasiness in an incumbent camp.
The Democrats’ e-mail was not just spin. An incumbent at 44 percent — or at anything less than a majority — is generally viewed as vulnerable.
The theory is that the public already knows the incumbent. If a majority isn’t on board, it’s looking for something different.
Dorman himself has said much of his early support is from people who just don’t want to vote for Fallin.
“I’m sure some of you don’t know who I am,” he said, half-joking, when he opened his Tulsa campaign office on Monday. “All you know is that somebody is running against Mary Fallin.”
Fallin’s sudden drop in popularity is probably associated with sharp reaction to some of her education initiatives, and, perhaps in some quarters, to perceived links to big business and the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce.
The question now is whether those unhappy with Fallin are mad enough to actually vote for a Democrat — especially a largely unknown Democrat without anything close to the campaign resources of an incumbent governor — or whether they will return, however grudgingly, to the fold.
They could, of course, vote for one of the two independents in the race, or just stay home altogether; either case probably benefits Fallin.
All said and done, Gov. Fallin is likely to be re-elected by a safe margin. What the polls tell us is that the general public just might not be crazy about it.
Next Tuesday, Governor Fallin will begin touring the state in a campaign RV.
Here’s the announcement:
The kick-off for the tour begins Tuesday, as the governor travels from Oklahoma City to Tulsa with stops along Historic Route 66 (details below). Touring will continue next Thursday (8/7) and Saturday (8/9) in locations to include El Reno, Weatherford, Elk City, Woodward, Watonga, the Oklahoma City Gun Show and more. More details will be released next week. The governor will also tour Northeast and Southeast Oklahoma in subsequent trips.
Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
Mary on the Move Tour Launch
(Media are invited to all events. Governor Fallin is available for interviews at each event. Please email Alex@maryfallin.org for questions or to book an interview)
Parking lot of FFG Campaign Headquarters; 915 North Robinson Avenue; Oklahoma City
Governor Fallin and the campaign team will meet with supporters before loading the RV and starting the tour.
Arrive at Pops Diner in Arcadia
Pops Diner 66 Oklahoma 66, Arcadia, OK
Governor Fallin will meet with Oklahomans at Pops Diner on Route 66.
The first 50 customers get a free pop on Mary Fallin!
Arrive at the Rock Café in Stroud,OK.
114 W. Main Street Stroud,OK
Governor Fallin will eat lunch and talk to diners at the historic Rock Café.
Arrive in Guthrie Green, Downtown Tulsa
111 East Brady Street, Tulsa, OK
Governor Fallin will meet with Tulsa supporters and hold a media availability at Guthrie Green
Arrive at Los Cabos Grill and Cantina in Jenks
300 Riverwalk Terrace #100, Jenks
Governor Fallin and Fallin for Governor team will host a “meet and greet” reception with food and fun
The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund today endorsed Steve Russell in the Republican runoff for Congress in the 5th District.
Russell, retired Army officer who owns Two Rivers Arms in Oklahoma City, faces Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas in the runoff.
In a letter to Russell, NRA Federal Affairs Director James Baker says, “Based on your leadership on Second Amendment issues in the Oklahoma State Senate, you have earned an ‘A’ rating from the NRA-PVF. Throughout your career, you have consistently opposed all attempts restrict gun rights and have been a strong advocate of the Second Amendment.”
“This is a tremendous honor from an organization which millions of Americans hold in the highest esteem,” says Russell. ”As a life member of the National Rifle Association, I admire the way the NRA leads the fight to defend the Second Amendment so I cherish this endorsement.”
Russell is the only Congressional candidate in the country to use a rifle to save his life, to author NRA-sponsored bills into law, and who also owns a rifle manufacturing company.
Congressman James Lankford says the Internal Revenue Service has lost more than emails. He says it has lost the trust of taxpayers.
His comments came after a hearing into IRS operations. The hearing examined how the IRS can work better for the American taxpayers and examined potential IRS reforms to prevent future targeting of American taxpayers for their political beliefs.
“Details continue to surface about not only the supposedly politically ‘neutral’ IRS targeting groups seeking tax-exempt status based on their political beliefs, but also the lengths to which the agency has gone to prevent proper congressional oversight,“ said Lankford.
“The Oversight Committee today took the next step in our investigation to recommend solutions to ensure political targeting never happens again at the IRS. Specific recommendations include: lengthening the probation period for new federal employees, changing policies to prevent the IRS from asking irrelevant questions about free speech and protecting the right of organizations to shield their members and staff from IRS intrusion.
“The IRS has demonstrated it cannot securely and properly manage Americans’ personal information. They ‘lost’ agency officials’ emails that could have assisted our investigation to hold agency wrongdoers accountable. The IRS also lost Americans’ trust to remain politically neutral and treat their tax information fairly and securely. Now, the Department of Justice refuses to appoint special counsel to investigate the potential corruption surrounding the IRS targeting.
“The recommendations in today’s hearing would help increase transparency, replace broken processes and remove the IRS from its role in implementing the unworkable Affordable Care Act. We will continue to seek accountability on behalf of American taxpayers and the groups specifically targeted by the IRS for their political views. We must ensure Americans’ freedoms are not infringed by highly placed individuals in federal agencies with a political agenda,” concluded Lankford.
To view the Oversight Committee’s staff report with suggested preventative solutions to ensure IRS political targeting never happens again, please click here.
Never let it be said that Common Core (CC) entirely lacks educational value.
By exercising even a little of the critical thinking the pushers of these national standards claim to want mandated in all classrooms, consumers can learn a big, valuable lesson about polling that seeks to shape public opinion rather than honestly gauge it.
The one constant in the spate of polls being taken as CC heats up as a political issue is that a sizable portion of the population still knows little or nothing about how these curricular guidelines were developed or what they do. To some prominent pollsters, the knowledge gap is an opening to feed respondents an entirely positive portrayal and then ask them leading questions likely to elicit pro-CC responses.
A recent example was a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll done June 11–15, purporting to find support exceeds opposition to Common Core by almost a 2–1 margin. But first, the pollsters found almost half their participants said they had seen, read, or heard zilch about the national standards. So then WSJ/NBC “educated” them with the following description:
“The Common Core standards are a new set of education standards for English and math that have been set to internationally competitive levels and would be used in every state for students in grades K through 12.”
That is a grossly misleading description. It utterly ignores serious scholarly findings about weaknesses of the math and English standards and their lack of comparability to the best in the world. Furthermore, it fails to acknowledge heavy Obama administration pressure to get states signed up, or the growing number of states now bailing on CC testing and CC itself.
In a June 18 Cato at Liberty blogpost, Cato Institute education analyst Neil McCluskey likened the WSJ/NBC approach to failing to tell people that pufferfish are poisonous, then telling them “pufferfish are delicious and nutritious,” then finally asking, “would you like to eat some pufferfish?”
The first week of May, a survey by Republican pollster John McLaughlin used similar pufferfishy questioning to convert an almost equal split of opinion on CC (35 percent approval, 33 percent disapproval, 32 percent don’t know) to a whopping two-thirds level of support, by feeding respondents what it called a “simple, neutral” description. Again, it was anything but objective. It was CC puffery.
The political takeaway from McLaughlin was that Republicans should beware of opposing Common Core, because national standards will have a big upside with swing voters in the general election. Scribes from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nominally conservative think tank, then sought to drive home that point with commentary warning Republican candidates that criticizing Common Core is a losing issue.
It would have been reasonable for media reporting on all this to have noted the McLaughlin Poll was commissioned by the Collaborative for Student Success, recipient of heavy funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars both creating Common Core and now purchasing support for it. And Fordham also does PR for the Gates people.
Someone might ask Oklahoma state school superintendent Janet Barresi how much being a red-hot supporter of Common Core in a deep-red state helped her. Despite reportedly putting more than $1 million of her own money into her campaign, she lost in a landslide to CC opponent Joy Hofmeister in the June 24 GOP primary. In fact, Barresi finished third with just 21 percent support.
Here and there, some polls are beginning to reflect the growing anger of citizens over undemocratically imposed nationalized standards they like less the more they find out about them. A little-noted University of Connecticut poll conducted the last week of April found just that: Opposition was highest among people who said they were most highly informed about CC.
Now, one of the polling heavyweights, Rasmussen Reports, has done a straightforward survey (June 21–22), using no leading or trick questions, and finds support for Common Core plummeting among parents with school-age children. Only 34 percent of those parents favor schools nationwide having to meet the so-called Common Core State Standards, a drop of 18 percentage points since a Rasmussen survey last November.
Citizens should closely scrutinize all public-opinion surveys for embedded bias. A critical assessment of the accumulating data indicates a growing proportion of parents who have brought themselves up to speed independently on Common Core—as opposed to being pollster-led—oppose this top-down imposition of shoddy, one-size-fits-all standards and subjective testing on their children.
If you’re tired of receiving political phone calls and mailers, request an absentee ballot. Once we receive notification that you have turned your ballot in, we will take your name off the Oklahoma Republican Party call and mailing list and advise our candidates’ campaigns to do the same! Be sure to visit http://www.okvoterinfo.com/to request your absentee ballot by Oct. 15th.