[Oklahoma City, OK, November 12, 2015] The following is the statement provided by Oklahoma Democratic Party chair, Mark Hammons, on pending open records requests, suggested changes to Ethics Rules, and an ethics complaint regarding Governor Fallin’s possible violations:
“Last week it was disclosed that Governor Fallin had interfered in a medical board investigation. Rather than providing evidence of when and why she took that action, Governor Fallin arrogantly assumed she could simply say that there were no bad intentions and the matter would end.
“They duty of the Governor is to set an example, but this Governor’s example has been to operate behind closed doors and ignore accountability.
“For a year and a half, the Governor has a stonewalled her duty to comply with the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
“In June, Governor Fallin, using funds that she still has not disclosed, abandoned her responsibilities to Oklahoma, to take a Paris junket. We asked for the records of what money she received, who paid her husband’s expenses and where the money went. She has refused to answer.
“Following that, Governor Fallin violated the law to move her daughter’s mobile home onto the taxpayer’s mansion. She not only violated use restrictions, she took taxpayer money to pay for the living costs. Any other citizen would pay a fine – has the Governor?
“Any other citizen would have to repay the cost of siphoned water, electric, and utilities. Has the Governor done that? Our citizens need answers and need to know that Governor Fallin is not above the law.
“Last week, Oklahoma learned that Governor Fallin pulled strings for a political ally and did so behind closed doors.
“This week, the entire nation was told that Oklahoma’s grad on ethics and openness was an “F.” Governor Fallin’s response has been silence.
“This Monday, Governor Fallin was sued by a citizen’s organization for refusing to comply with Open Records. That violation is itself potentially criminal. Again, no explanation, only arrogant silence.
“It is apparent that there will be no voluntary accounting from this Governor. She will act only if the law compels it and the public demands it. So today we are filing an ethics complaint and asking for a full investigation of these violations. And, if we must, we are willing to go further and seek a grand jury investigation.
“But we are also appealing to a more powerful group. One that can investigate. One that can inform. A group that the public regards as more honest and influential than any of the three branches of governments. That group is you, the members of the press, the Fourth Estate. I am asking you not to take the word of the Democratic Party, nor should you take the word of the Governor. I am asking you to do what a free press has historically done so well. Conduct an independent investigation, report to the citizens and be this State’s guardian of truth and honesty.”
[Oklahoma City, OK, November 11, 2015] The Oklahoma Democratic Party released the following statement on Veterans Day 2015:
Today we join Oklahomans across the state in honoring veterans and their families for their service and the sacrifices they make each day.
No military fighting force compares to that of the United States military. Service men and women come together at home and abroad for one purpose: to defend our nation and to promote our values and ideals. We must put aside partisan politics to ensure that we are doing everything we can to care for our veterans and their families not just when they are away but when they return home as well.
We will continue to support greater access to employment opportunities, education and training, financial and food assistance, secure housing, and health services for our veterans and their families.
Oklahoma Democrats are proud of the efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden through their Joining Forces initiative to work to end veterans’ homelessness. Further, we are grateful for the work of Congress and President Obama to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act which is just one more step in the effort to raise awareness and improve access to mental health services for veterans.
Today, on this Veterans Day, we stand in solidarity as brothers and sisters of this great nation to honor and give thanks to all those who have served and those that stand alongside them.
[Oklahoma City, OK, November 10, 2015] At their November 7th meeting, the Oklahoma Democratic Party Central Committee unanimously confirmed the hiring of Russell Griffin as Executive Director through the 2016 election cycle.
Griffin, a Savanna, Oklahoma native, has served in an interim capacity since mid-September. Prior to his appointment he worked for Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) as the campaign manager for her first re-election bid, as Rep. Esty’s District Director, and as the office’s liaison with the Town of Newtown during the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. During his time as District Director, Griffin served the constituents of Connecticut’s 5th District and led a team that brought back over $2 million in federal benefits to the district.
With over 15 years of political experience, Griffin has served in a variety of campaign roles across Oklahoma and the country helping to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. Those include Houston (TX) Mayor Annise Parker, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, and former Oklahoma Congressman Dan Boren. He also played a key role in former Lt. Governor Jari Askin’s 2010 bid for Governor. In 2002, Griffin worked with Oklahoma Democrats as a field representative for Southeastern Oklahoma, building a diverse coalition that helped propel Brad Henry to his upset win over Steve Largent in that year’s gubernatorial race.
“We are pleased to have Russell return to Oklahoma as executive director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party,” said Mark Hammons, chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. “He is extraordinarily well-qualified and received unanimous support from the Central Committee for his hire. I’ve had the pleasure to work with Russell since mid-September on an interim basis and he has proven his ability and shown strong leadership for all Oklahomans whether Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.”
“I want to thank Chairman Hammons and the central committee for selecting me to serve as Executive Director. I’m excited about the opportunities that await us and I look forward to electing more Democrats in the 2016 elections,” Griffin said. “It not just about elections, though. We must work every day to educate the voters of Oklahoma about the disastrous policies put in place by Governor Fallin, other statewide officials, and the Republican legislature. Their failure to place Oklahomans first has caused our state to fall behind.
“With a massive budget shortfall expected for next year, Republicans have failed to adequately address the major problems facing Oklahoma: teacher shortages, crumbling infrastructure, understaffed prisons, underfunded mental health programs, zero personal income growth and a lack of affordable health care for thousands of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens. As a party, we plan to highlight the failures of Republican leaders in our state and provide a better plan to move Oklahoma forward.”
[Oklahoma City, OK, November 10, 2015] In honor of Oklahoma’s 108th birthday on Monday, November 16th at an event entitled “Welcome to the Party!” the Oklahoma Democratic Party will formally notify the State Election Board that Independents will be allowed to vote in all Democratic primaries beginning in 2016 through 2018.
The event will take place at the State Capitol in Room 206 at 9:00 a.m., and will be open to the press and special guests. Democratic legislators from the House and Senate will also be in attendance to show their support and encourage even more voters to participate in the most important practice of our Democracy.
“It is imperative that all Oklahomans have the opportunity to cast their vote and participate in the democratic process of selecting their elected leaders. This is, however, not the final step but it is a first step in ensuring greater access to the ballot. No one should be excluded from exercising his or her right and we will continue to fight for greater ballot access for all Oklahomans,” stated Mark Hammons, chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.
Voters registered as Independents and Democrats will be allowed to vote in all primaries beginning in 2016, including the Presidential Preferential Primary on March 1, 2016. Almost thirteen (13) percent of registered voters in Oklahoma are registered as Independent.
WHO: Oklahoma Democratic Party Leadership
WHERE: Oklahoma State Capitol – Room 206
WHEN: MONDAY, November 16, 2015 9:00 a.m. CT
CONTACT: Sarah Baker