Blog

20 Jan
0

STATEMENT The Osage Nation Reacquires Lost Land

For Immediate Release
January 20, 2017

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
405-427-3366
Oklahoma Democratic Party

The Osage Nation Reacquires Lost Land

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Democratic Party is pleased to learn that the Osage Nation has regained back 43,000 acres of sacred land. The Osage Nation reacquired the lost land from media mogul Ted Tuner for a reported $74 million.

Chief Standing Bear is focused on preserving the tribe’s history stating “I hear the voices of our ancestors right here,” and preserving a portion of the land for bison, hunting and fishing in the future.

Having owned nearly 1.5 million acres in the late 1800’s, the Osage Nation lands dwindled to 5 percent by 2014. The land will eventually be returned to reservation status, but the tribe can begin operating the land in any manner they wish once the federal process is complete.

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The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent working people in Oklahoma and the best way to accomplish that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.

20 Jan
0

Rep. Perryman Issues Letter to House Rules Committee/Special Investigation Committee

Representative David Perryman has issued a letter to Chairman Cockroft and members of the House Rules Committee/Special Investigation Committee addressing the legal authority to conduct closed meetings.

Chairman Cockroft and Members of the House Rules Committee/Special Investigation Committee,

As a member of the Committee, I would request as a Point of Order, under what legal authority the Chairman and Members of the House Rules Committee/Special Investigation Committee continues to meet in closed/executive session and vote in closed/executive session.

As a part of that Point of Order, I would request a ruling on the legal authority that would exempt the Chairman and Members of the House Rules Committee/Special Investigation Committee from a willful violation of the Open Meeting Act of the State of Oklahoma each time that they participate/meet or cast a vote in a closed/executive session and how they would be exempted from the application of the penalty provisions of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act each time that they meet and each time that they cast a vote.

I believe that the pertinent provisions of law that should be addressed are as follows:

While the Open Meeting Act specifically excludes the Legislature from the definition of “Public Body” in 25 O.S. Section 304(1), the Legislature is not exempt from the Open Meeting Act. In fact, 25 O.S. Section 309, expressly shows that the Legislature is bound by the Open Meeting Act wherein it states that “the Legislature shall conduct open meetings in accordance with the rules to be adopted by each house thereof.” Thus not only must the Legislature and its Committees conduct open meetings, the penalty provisions of Section 314 of the Open Meeting Act would appear to apply to violations of Section 309 just as they do to violations of other Sections of the Open Meeting Act.

Under the express language of 25 O.S. Section 309, the only way that the Legislature (or its committees) appear to be empowered to vary from the open meeting requirement is by adopting a rule under the authority of Section 309. The Legislature has not yet adopted rules for the 56th Legislature and the rules of the 55th Legislature are not applicable to the 56th Legislature. Consequently, Rule 7.2 of the House Rules of the 55th Legislature that allows the Chairman of a Committee to close a Committee to the Public with the approval of the Speaker has not yet been adopted by the Legislature and therefore, neither the Chairman nor the Speaker of the House would appear to have the authority to close any committee meeting to the public.

There does not appear to be any innate or inherent right for the Oklahoma Legislature to “close” its meetings (or its committee meetings) to the public. According to Article II, Section 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution, “All political power is inherent in the people; and government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and to promote their general welfare;” and therefore unless the Legislature has an enumerated right to close its records, its legislative sessions or its committee meetings to the public, that right does not appear to exist.

Not even the Congress of the United States has the right, apart from the United States Constitution to keep its actions secret, private or otherwise withhold information from the people of the United States. Article I, Section 5 of the United States Constitution provides that Congress “shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy.” Neither the Oklahoma Constitution nor the statutes of the State of Oklahoma contain any corresponding provision empowering the Oklahoma House of Representatives or the Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives to make proceedings secret.

Finally, Article V, Section 31 of the Oklahoma Constitution requires that all legislative votes be entered in the Journal. The “Rules” adopted by your Committee on January 11, 2017, require that all votes of the Committee be taken secretly and never be publicly disclosed in apparent violation of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma.

If in fact 25 O.S. Section 309 applies to the Oklahoma Legislature, how would the penalty provisions of 25 O.S. Section 314 (a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding one (1) year or by both such fine and imprisonment) not apply to members of the Oklahoma Legislature who willfully violate Section 309.
Rep. David Perryman

19 Jan
0

RELEASE Second Legislative Assistant Alleges Sexual Harassment Against Kirby

For Immediate Release
January 19, 2017

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
405-427-3366
Oklahoma Democratic Party

Second Legislative Assistant Alleges Sexual Harassment Against Kirby

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Democratic Party is deeply troubled by continued efforts on behalf of the Republican-run Special Investigation Committee to conduct their investigation in private as another sexual harassment claim is made against Representative Kirby (R-75).

The second allegation made by former legislative assistant Carol Johnson follows a settled sexual harassment claim made earlier by another legislative assistant to Kirby. Johnson told The Oklahoman that “It made me feel terrible,” and “You feel very ashamed. … It makes you doubt your worth.”

The public deserves to know why state funds from a maintenance account were used to quietly settle the initial sexual harassment claim and why the House continues to hold a partisan investigation into the use of these House funds behind-closed-doors. All three Democrats appointed to the committee have refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement, citing lack of transparency on the panel’s part.

Representative David Perryman, D-Chickasha, announced that he would not sign the confidentiality agreement branding it essentially a “gag order” and stating that it “undermines the independence that I have as a legislator.” Representative Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, informed the panel’s chairman, that he would be absent “due to the requirement of signing a non-disclosure agreement.” Kouplen explained, “I served on a previous investigation with basically the same rules and non-disclosure agreement, and did not believe it provided the transparency that was expected or deserved.”

Oklahomans deserve to know how the House is conducting the investigation into why their tax dollars were quietly spent on a sexual harassment settlement and not kept in the dark by a process. A second sexual harassment claim against Kirby should prompt the Special Investigation Committee to make these proceedings public and demonstrate the House’s desire for a clean and transparent investigative process.

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The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent working people in Oklahoma and the best way to accomplish that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.

19 Jan
0

RELEASE College of The Muscogee Nation Awarded Accreditation

For Immediate Release
January 19, 2017

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
405-427-3366
Oklahoma Democratic Party

College of The Muscogee Nation Awarded Accreditation

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Democratic Party would like to congratulate the College of The Muscogee Nation on their Accreditation Standard Pathway 10 Year Cycle. The CMN is currently in their first year of the Standard Pathway cycle.

This accomplishment is a tribute to every member of the college’s faculty and staff and validates the college’s academic program in meeting accepted educational standards and criteria. The accreditation involves an evaluation in the fourth year of the ten-year cycle to be held in the 2020-21 school year. An Accreditation Celebration and Open House will be held Wednesday, February 1, 2017, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the CMN Student Center, Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Contact Robert Bible at 918-689-0605 with any event questions.

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The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent working people in Oklahoma and the best way to accomplish that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.

18 Jan
0

RELEASE: Oklahoma Democratic Party: Scott Pruitt Chief Law Evader

For Immediate Release
January 18, 2017

Media Contact:
Angela Allmond, Communications Director
Oklahoma Democratic Party
405-427-3366

Oklahoma Democratic Party: Scott Pruitt Chief Law Evader

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s Attorney General is supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer, and yet when it comes to disclosing how he has managed taxpayer money, Scott Pruitt is the chief law evader.

The October report of State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones states that the Attorney General’s office “internal controls do not provide reasonable assurance that revenues or inventory were accurately reported in the accounting records.” Report, p. 3.
The State Auditor says:

It appears management has chosen not to compel with GAO standards requiring annual inventory counts nor the Oklahoma Administrative Rules requiring the annual reporting of current inventory of tangible assets.
Without periodic reports, inventory may be misstated or misappropriated without detection.

Report, p. 6.
Not disclosed in the Auditor’s report, but recently discovered, is the Attorney General’s failure to report the money spent on hiring outside counsel for litigation. This reform measure known as a 20i report is designed to prevent waste and favoritism in legal fees. It requires explanations not only for outside legal costs but of the reasons for spending taxpayer money when there are already attorneys on staff.

This isn’t a matter of political philosophy, but rather one of basic accountability.
The failure of the Attorney General to follow the laws he was sworn to uphold is unacceptable in any circumstance, but here serious ethical questions are raised.

Pruitt has filed 14 lawsuits challenging federal environment regulations, and in 13 of those cases, he was joined with those that had contributed money to Mr. Pruitt or Pruitt affiliated political campaign committees. [New York Times, 11/14/16]. According to the New York Times, Pruitt even took tens of thousands of dollars from companies that Oklahoma was suing after he became Attorney General and after he took control of those suits. [New York Times, 11/14/16].

Before Scott Pruitt is handed control of billions of taxpayer dollars at the Environmental Protection Agency, taxpayers in Oklahoma and across the country should know how he has handled their money at the state level. Scott Pruitt- how much of our tax dollars have you spent on outside lawfirms? Scott Pruitt- why haven’t you followed the reporting laws? Scott Pruitt- why didn’t you disqualify yourself from cases involving political contributors?

Scott Pruitt has yet to answer 50 questions submitted by the FBI as part of its required vetting process. It’s time for Scott Pruitt to start following the law and stop obstructing the law.

Mark Hammons, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair

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The mission of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is to represent working people in Oklahoma and the best way to accomplish that is to elect Democrats to all areas of government. Oklahoma Democrats are progressive and sensible. We are optimistic about the future, and we are determined to see Oklahoma’s traditional values upheld. More information about the Oklahoma Democratic Party can be found at www.okdemocrats.org or by calling (405) 427-3366.