Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Friday commented on Oklahoma’s victory in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU challenging a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol.
“Today’s ruling is a clear message that the Ten Commandments can be displayed on public grounds like the Oklahoma Capitol because of the historical role the text has played in the founding of our nation. The Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds is constitutional because of its historical value. The U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional a nearly identical monument in Texas. We were confident in the state’s case from the start and appreciate the court’s thoughtful consideration and ruling in the state’s favor,” Attorney General Pruitt said.
An Oklahoma County judge Friday granted Oklahoma’s motion for summary judgment and ruled the monument was constitutional.
Today the Oklahoma Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint against Senator Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa. A spokesman said an investigation revealed that the Republican Senator’s ethics reports disclose a person “skirting Oklahoma ethics law by living on campaign funds.”
“Once again, this is displays a serious pattern of bad behavior by the Republican leadership. Dan Newberry must believe that he is above the law or that laws don’t apply to the Majority Whip of the state Senate,” stated former Representative Wallace Collins.
Sections 257:10-1-7(3)(A)(B)(C)(D) and 257:10-1-14(12)(D) of Oklahoma Ethics Laws are clear that expenditures more than fifty dollars ($50.00) in the aggregate must be reported individually and described in such a way that a person reading the report can tell where and how the money was spent.
Contrary to the law, Senator Newberry’s ethics reports, lumps together almost twelve thousand dollars ($12,000.00) of unitemized expenditures including green fees, airfare, lodging and gifts.
Collins continued, “I have never been able to buy an airplane ticket or hotel room for under fifty ($50.00) bucks. He knew the cost of these expenses, and he knew what the law says about reporting. It is time for him to come clean or resign his leadership post for his willful violation of state ethics laws. If he claims he didn’t know the law—he should resign from his position immediately for not having the knowledge of Oklahoma’s laws.”
In 1928, the first Roman Catholic ever nominated for president, Gov. Al Smith of New York, came to campaign in Oklahoma at the height of the Ku Klux Klan’s power. Smith was greeted with numerous burning crosses during the night as his train rolled across the state. When Smith spoke to a rally in Oklahoma City, the KKK burned more crosses outside of the stadium where his campaign rally was held, inciting hatred and fomenting violence. Some of Smith’s relatives were listening to radio broadcasts of the proceedings and said they believed the atmosphere was so volatile that “they expected a bullet, expected to hear a gun go off.”
Smith then delivered what many consider to be the most courageous speech ever given by a presidential nominee. In it he said, “There is no greater mockery in the world today than the burning of the cross by these people who are spreading this propaganda …. (the symbol of) the Christ they are supposed to adore… . To inject bigotry, hatred, intolerance and un-American sectarian division into a campaign… . Nothing could be so contradictory of our whole history.”
As a child in 1966, I remember leaflets were dropped by an airplane over Bartlesville that read, “Don’t vote for Dewey Bartlett. He is a Roman Catholic.” The fair-minded voters of Oklahoma overcame the religious prejudices and elected the best person for the job — Bartlett, our first Catholic governor.
Despite past hobgoblins in our state history who have insulted Catholics and the Catholic Church, nothing compares in degree or kind to what the government of Oklahoma City has sanctioned at the Civic Center on September 21. A Satanic “Black mass” is scheduled on government property. One particular faith is being blasphemed, ridiculed, and mocked in what can only be called in contemporary terms, “hate speech.” The specious legal reasoning that Oklahoma City bureaucrats used to permit this sacrilege fails standards of reason and civility. Harvard University in May canceled the same event on their campus without fear of legal reprisal or First Amendment abridgement.
It was wrong in 1928 for government officials to stand idly by as the Klan burned crosses on government property to incite violence and hatred against a presidential candidate because of his faith. In 2014, it is wrong for government officials, in the guise of political correctness, to allow Satanists on taxpayer property to blaspheme and incite hatred against the Catholic Church. Those bureaucrats who have sanctioned this outrage and the city elected officials who have circled around them should be released to industry to seek other opportunities.
Congressman James Lankford issued the following statement today after he was awarded the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Guardian of Small Business award.
Dan Danner, President and CEO of NFIB, presented the award to Rep. Lankford for his strong voting record on behalf of small business in the 113th Congress.
“I am honored to do what I can to protect and preserve the thousands of small businesses I represent in the Fifth District of Oklahoma,” Lankford said. “On an almost hourly basis, this Administration attempts to stifle entrepreneurship and innovation with regulatory burdens and excessive mandates. But, in spite of the challenges stacked against them, hardworking American business owners and families work together to create the engine of the American economy. I remain committed to fighting against federal overreach to ensure American businesses can continue to flourish and support our families.”
To view NFIB’s “How Congress Voted” report, click here.
Honoring the anniversary of United States Constitution, signed on this date in 1787, United States Senator Tom Coburn, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Former Congressman Dan Boren and Tulsa Councilor G.T. Bynum today announced the Oklahoma Civics Education Initiative.
This state legislative effort aims to ensure all Oklahoma high school graduates have a basic understanding of American civics and history.
“Our country has endured because of the wisdom of our founding fathers and the system of government they established,” said Senator Coburn. “Everyone should have a basic understanding of American civics and why our country has prevailed for more than 200 years. The Civics Education Initiative seeks to ensure that our young people understand what makes America great.”
According to the Pew Research Center, only about one-third of Americans can name the three branches of the United States government, much less say what each does. Further, studies of high school students in Oklahoma and Arizona showed less than a four percent passage rate on the Unites States Citizenship Civics test – the test all immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass. According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which administers the civics test as part of the naturalization process, 92 percent of immigrants who take the test pass it on their first try.
The Oklahoma Civics Education Initiative will promote an active and engaged citizenry by requiring that all Oklahoma high school students and those seeking general educational development equivalency (GED) pass the 100-question civics test administered by USCIS. The state legislation will allow students to take the test any time during their high school career, and to take the test as many times as necessary to pass.
By using the well-established USCIS test, there will be no need or expense to create a new test or study materials, as these materials are already available online and for free. The legislation will allow individual schools to administer the test in a way the school as deems adequate to meet the requirements.
“We can do better for this generation of students,” said Attorney General Scott Pruitt. “This initiative is a concrete first step to ensuring that Oklahoma high school students graduate with the fundamental knowledge to become engaged citizens. Those who are educated about our government, by and large, participate at a higher rate.”
The USCIS Citizenship Civics test consists of 100 basic questions about American civics and history, such as:
What is the name of the President of the United States now?
Name one branch or part of the government.
What is the capital of your state?
What major event happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States?
To date the CEI has seen broad support across the state. Co-Chairs of the Oklahoma Civics Education Initiative include U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, Attorney General Scott Pruitt and former Congressman Dan Boren.
Six other states today are announcing similar state legislative efforts including Arizona, Missouri, Louisiana, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. The goal of the Civics Education Initiative is for every state in the nation to pass this legislation by September 17, 2017 – the 230th anniversary of the Constitution.
The Initiative’s national board of directors includes former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, and actor Joe Mantegna who has been nominated for both Golden Globe and Emmy awards. (National Board Video Message)
The Civics Education Initiative is an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute, which was founded to educate American youth on the importance of our country’s unique freedoms, and to inspire them to public service. Joe Foss was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, former governor of South Dakota, and first commissioner of the American Football League.
That was the best Tina Owens Gillespie could come up with as a reason to embezzle more than $400,000 from her fellow citizens.
“I spent it,’ she replied to Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Bourgeois, Jr.’s question as to where the money was. “I had a prescription drug problem and then it escalated into a lifestyle.”
Gillespie pleaded guilty Monday to one count of embezzlement in connection with a scheme which began in September, 2010 and didn’t end until she was caught in December, 2012.
She had served as the Executive Secretary of the Stone County Economic Development Partnership during the time she stole the money.
She had faced five counts of the same crime.
She admitted to forging signatures and cashing checks, ultimately defrauding the SCEDP of $414,795.08.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burrell said that in addition to the drugs, Gillespie had taken trips and purchased vehicles.
Asked what she had to say for herself, Gillespie apologized to the citizens and the SCEDP Board of Directors.
“Are you sorry you did it; or that you got caught?” Bourgeois asked.
She replied that she was actually glad she got caught.
“How are you going to pay the good, lawful citizens back the $400,000?” the judge asked.
She replied that she did not know.
On behalf of the state, Burrell acknowledged the guilty plea and recommended a sentence of 20 years, with 12 years suspended and eight years to serve. The request included five years of supervised probation after Gillespie’s release.
In addition, he asked for restitution in the full amount which was embezzled but declined to ask for a fine. He did, however, stipulate that Gillespie provide truthful testimony against former SCEDP Executive Director Jay Paul Gumm, who has also been charged in connection with the embezzlement. He will make a court appearance in January, 2015.
Bourgeois went with that recommendation, but added a $2,000 fine and ordered Gillespie to pay $300 to the state victims’ compensation fund.
She must begin paying $500 a month once she is released from Mississippi Department of Corrections custody.
At that rate, it would take Gillespie more than 69 years to repay the amount she stole.
Under new guidelines which went into effect July 1, Gillespie must serve 25 percent of her sentence, or two years, before she is eligible for parole.