While praising the passage of a Senate resolution authored by Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Lankford released a special memorial video to remember the tragedy.
Congressman James Lankford
It’s been 20 years since we experienced the worst act of American home-grown terrorism at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This solemn day stands as a reminder of the 168 souls that were lost. On a day where anger lashed out, Oklahomans responded with compassion.
Every year since April 19, 1995, we stand together and read aloud the names of those who lost their lives. We remember the first responders who acted selflessly in a time of need. We remember the families impacted by this tragic event, and we remember the survivors who continue to re-count and re-live that fateful day. We remember this day – a day that Oklahomans did not allow fear to overcome their love for our fellow man.
In response to the 20th anniversary, Oklahomans re-commit to that same spirit of generosity – the “Oklahoma Standard.” This year, we place a special emphasis on participating in acts of service, to help us never again allow anger to blind our eyes to one another. To honor those who died, we encourage Oklahomans to reach out to people to serve them, even those with whom they may disagree. We will engage in conversations and participate in acts of service to show that our bond of community and patriotism will not be shaken by terror. In the end, we may have differences, but we will show the nation that love overcomes hate, and civil discourse can be achieved even when there is disagreement. That is the “Oklahoma Standard.”
The Senate passed a resolution (S.Res. 139) this week, authored by Senator Jim Inhofe and I, to commemorate the anniversary. In addition to remembering the victims and their families and honoring the first responders, the resolution applauds the people of Oklahoma City for making tremendous progress over the past two decades. Instead of deteriorating after this tragedy, our city has rebounded and experienced great opportunity and growth. This story of perseverance stands as a beacon to the rest of the nation, and the world, attesting to the strength of goodness in overcoming evil wherever it arises in our midst.
There is an entire generation that has grown up since 1995. It is up to us to teach them how love and kindness can still shine through even the most tragic event. I ask Americans to join Oklahoma in remembering that tragic day, but also to show this generation and the nation how we respond to hatred and violence.
Twenty years ago, our state experienced firsthand Psalm 34:18, which says, ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ May God bless our state, and may we never lose our resilient Oklahoma and American spirit.
UPDATED When Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon soon reveals the results of his now-week-long push to raise money, there’s likely to be a surprise.
Donations since Brogdon’s election a week ago have totaled tens of thousands and it continues to pour in, sources tell The McCarville Report. Many of the donations are for just $8 per month, but donors pledge to give that amount each month. And there have been several donations of a thousand dollars and more, our source reports, plus many donations in the $25 to $100 range.
With allegations swirling the Party was broke and in debt for $50,000 (an assertion contested by outgoing Chairman Dave Weston) as of last week, Brogdon set as his first goal the effort to raise money.
Longtime GOP fundraiser Trey Richardson, in an effort first reported here, kicked off much of the effort by asking for donations. Richardson and Brogdon have been at philosophical odds, but Richardson said the effort should be about the Party’s financial health and not the chairman.
Pam Pollard, defeated by Brogdon in a runoff ballot on Saturday, joined the call for financial support. She is president of the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women.
And today, former National Committeewoman Bunny Chambers, who supported Pollard, sent TMR this comment: “I’m sending my donation today. I want to urge everyone who believes in limited government, individual freedom, religious freedom, and economic freedom to donate as much as possible today. Even though I supported Pam Pollard for Chairman, Randy is a dear friend and will lead the Oklahoma Republicans with honesty and integrity. Let’s all make this a team effort and make Republicans the strongest party in Oklahoma!”
Brogdon began calling his supporters, some of whom launched their own efforts to raise money.
Brogdon has not yet disclosed how successful the efforts have been, but one source said the total “will amaze people…small and large donations as well.”
With some donors opting to mail checks rather than donate online, some expect the coming week will see a significant influx of donations.
It is known that members of the congressional delegation sent checks, with Congressman Tom Cole, a former Party chairman, one of the first…and the largest so far. Cole has been a target of criticism from many of Brogdon’s most ardent supporters.
Lawmakers, pollsters and policy experts voice concerns about a study conducted by the 2015 Democratic Pollster of the Year, raising questions with regard to the validity of the survey.
A statement about the poll and its margin of error released with the results read, “Global Strategy Group conducted a survey on March 26-29, 2015 with 500 registered voters in Oklahoma. The results have a margin of error of +/-4.4%, and care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the expected electorate are properly represented based on past voter turnout statistics.”
The poll results ― ironically released on Tax Day ― stated, “Oklahoma Voters Oppose Tax Cut While State Faces Budget Shortfall.”
However, concerns about the polling firm’s objectivity, inconsistent subject format, leading language of the questions posed, and faulty premises altering questions’ meanings called into question the survey’s reliability.
“The questions were leading,” Jonathan Small, executive vice president for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, said, referring to the March 26-29 survey conducted by the New York-based Global Strategy Group. “This is from the same (pollster) who said Oklahomans support increasing taxes on the oil and gas industry by 600 percent.”
The third question in the poll, relating to a scheduled quarter percent reduction in the income tax rate, was preceded by a statement requiring the respondent to assume the statement is true before answering the poll question.
“The tax cut will leave Oklahoma with $57 million less in tax revenues to fund state services like education, public safety, and health care at a time when there is a $611 million shortfall in next year’s state budget,” the statement reads.
The question appeals to the statement as an authority for the respondent.
“Having heard this do you support or oppose moving ahead with the scheduled cut to the top personal income tax rate?” the question reads.
Small said it was a contingency-based question which depends on the statement being factual in order for the response to the question to be reliable. The statement, in Small’s view, is not factual.
“The budget shortfall is a projection,” he said, indicating uncertainty about the size of any reduction in state revenues. He continued to explain that the $611 million figure is a combined number of the previous year’s spending excess added to the projected reduction in tax receipts for the current year.
“A better question might be, ‘Would you favor a tax increase ― because that’s what this is ― to bail out legislators’ overspending from last year?’” he said. “Not one tax cut in Oklahoma has ever caused a budget shortfall. There is not a single time they can point to.”
State Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole, believes the poll intentionally misleads Oklahomans with false statements and is only a portion of an ongoing campaign of disinformation.
“(One) fallacy is that we can’t afford to let the people of Oklahoma keep their own hard-earned money because falling oil prices are negatively impacting Oklahoma’s economy,” Newell said. “Stop and think about that. The economy is hurting and they want to take more money out of people’s pockets.”
Rep. Newell contends that the money in people’s pockets constitutes the state’s economy, which is already facing the challenge of falling oil prices, and to take dollars out of the hands of consumers only further strains the budget. Arguably, he said, the lower tax rate negates the impact of falling oil prices on our economy and thus lessens the negative impact on our state’s budget.
“The poll is built upon a carefully crafted false premise,” Newell said. “The liberal, big government groups have effectively invested vast amounts of resources convincing people that we don’t spend enough money on education and that we could spend more if not for the tax cuts.
“When asked, ‘What percentage of the budget do you think we spend on education?’ 79 percent of Oklahomans believe that the amount is 40 percent (of the budget) or less with 53 percent (of respondents) believing the amount is only 20 percent or less. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that their poll would show that 74 percent (of GSG’s respondents) believe we don’t spend enough on education. The truth is that over 50 percent of our budget goes to education.”
Newell referred to a poll conducted by The Tarrance Group on Jan. 20-22 of this year which found Oklahoma voters had been misinformed about how much of the state budget allocated to education funding.
“I firmly believe that if their poll question was prefaced with the truth,” he said, “the answer respondents gave would have been much different.”
State Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, dismissed the poll in its entirety. He indicated that when questions are formed in such a way to generate a desired result, the value of the poll becomes negligible.
“The Global Strategy Group poll is nothing but a political statement,” Treat said. “Polling can be an important tool but only if questions are not drafted in such a manner to arrive at a predetermined result.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the press release was written before the poll was even conducted in this instance.”
Despite the leading nature of the questions, the poll indicated a 40 percent rate of favorability or no opinion for the quarter percent reduction in the income tax rate. Small said history shows that unbiased polling shows consistent support for tax cuts in the state.
“SoonerPoll, The Tarrance Group and other (polling firms) have consistently shown support for tax cuts in their polls,” OCPA’s Jonathan Small said.
Bill Shapard of SoonerPoll.com was critical of the methodology used for the poll and doubted the ability of the New York pollster’s ability to find the genuine opinions of Oklahoma voters with the survey.
“This type of polling is not representative of Oklahomans,” Shapard said. “They (GSG) used registered voters not likely voters. You need likely voters, every pollster knows this. They don’t know Oklahoma.”
He continued to explain that the pool of registered voters in the state was 2.8 million. But likely voters were a smaller subset numbering 1.1 million Oklahomans, less than half of the number of registered voters. As a result, he said, this is not representative of what Oklahomans truly feel.
After asking questions based on income tax policy the survey changed direction dramatically. The poll shifted the subject to questions about accepting federal funds, upkeep of roads and bridges, Rainy Day Fund usage, and how to best attract businesses to locate in the state. The inconsistency prompted some to conclude that the income tax questions were just a pretext to advocate for changes in unrelated policy.
Global Strategy Group’s website indicates an intentional and strong bias toward left-wing and progressive advocacy. In a March 18, 2015 report by GSG, the polling firm makes no apologies for their bias.
“GSG’s polling and strategic counsel contributed to a number of the Democratic Party’s few key wins during the 2014 midterm elections, including the re-election campaigns of Governors Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Dan Malloy (CT),” The report states in part. “GSG also worked for some of the most important progressive independent expenditures in 2014: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Attorneys General Association, Senate Majority PAC, House Majority PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions, League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense Fund, and Michael Bloomberg’s I-USA PAC.”
Congressman Tom Cole released the following statement after he was named a 2015 recipient of the American Bar Association’s Congressional Justice Award. This annual award is given to lawmakers who have shown leadership in matters of justice. As one of four lawmakers who received the award this year, Cole was specifically recognized for his support of the Legal Services Corporation and his leadership related to passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
“I am honored to be recognized by the American Bar Association for my work on issues to ensure justice is upheld both on tribal lands and across the country,” Cole said. “Especially in light of my Chickasaw heritage, I believe that Native Americans have a critical perspective and role in American society that should be acknowledged and respected. That role extends to the justice system existing in tribes across the country. As an advocate for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and the Legal Services Corporation, I remain committed to protection and justice for all vulnerable individuals.”
Governor Fallin today announced the appointment of Robert J. “Bob” Ross to the Oklahoma Board of Education. Ross will replace Bill Shdeed, who resigned, and will serve as an at-large member. His appointment requires confirmation from the Oklahoma Senate.
Since 2003, Bob Ross has been with Inasmuch Foundation and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation (EEJF). He became president and CEO of both in 2005. Inasmuch Foundation is a philanthropic organization that invests in education, health and human services and community enhancement in Oklahoma. EEJF provides grants and contributions to media institutions and journalism schools nationwide, primarily in the areas of investigative reporting, youth education, professional development and special opportunities.
“Bob Ross is a visionary Oklahoma leader whose philanthropic work has helped to support schools and learning programs across the state,” said Fallin. “He has dedicated his life to making an impact in our community, and the Board of Education will provide him a great opportunity to directly affect and improve our public schools. I am proud to welcome him to the team.”
Ross said he is excited to start working in his new position.
“As Governor Fallin has said many times, nothing is more important to Oklahoma’s future than providing high quality public education,” said Ross. “I am looking forward to working with the Board of Education, Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, and our entire education community to provide the greatest level of support to our students and educators.”
Prior to his work at Inasmuch Foundation and EEJF, Ross was an attorney with the Oklahoma City law firm McAfee and Taft. He serves on the Board of Directors for a variety of organizations including the University of Oklahoma Foundation, Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, John W. Rex Elementary School, Smart Start Central Oklahoma, and Teach for America-Oklahoma City.
In 2013, he was awarded the Oklahoma Center for Non-Profits’ Visionary Impact Award.
Ross earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife Heather have two children and live in Oklahoma City.
Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon reiterated today that he found the Party in debt when he became chairman following Saturday’s GOP State Convention.
That came just hours after previous Chairman Dave Weston told The McCarville Report that the Party did not have debt and had $33,000 in cash when he left office. But Brogdon said again today he’s had to do without paid staff as he struggles to fill the Party’s coffers.
In his first email to supporters, Brogdon wrote:
I am excited to have the opportunity to serve you as the new State GOP Chairman. I am committed to grow the party, both in numbers and finances.
On my first day on the job I found we were upside down on the balance sheet. Simply stated we had more bills to pay than money in the bank.
I have made immediate changes that are rather drastic but necessary to help improve the cash flow. Unfortunately I have had to lay off the entire paid OKGOP staff. We are all volunteers at the GOP headquarters, including myself and will remain so until the finances are stable once again.
I am thankful for all of the volunteers who are helping us keep the office open during this time. But I still need your help to get us back in the black.
That’s why I am asking you today to partner with me today in supporting the OKGOP. I’m asking all delegates, elected officials, and party activists to immediately join the Minute Man Club. For a minimal investment of $8.25 per month you can become a Minute Man and help the OKGOP grow stronger than ever.
Please also consider joining the Elephant Club. Membership levels are Gold-$5,000, Silver-$2,500 and Bronze-$1,000. With your generous gift as an Elephant Club member and a Minute Man, you can be a partner to help us not only pay off our debt, but help us lay down the groundwork as we enter the 2016 election year.
Now is the time for all of us to join together as Republicans and bring our finances back in the black. Please click here to give today your monthly support of $8.25, $25, or more.
Below I have included an email I received from the Bryan County Republican Party. They are issuing a challenge for every county party to meet or exceed their donation ($1,000). I am excited to see Republicans already rallying to help each other! Thank you in advance for your support and your contribution.