Oklahoma Politics: October 2006 Archives


Following in former City Councilor Randy Sullivan's footsteps, Oklahoma State Sen. Mary Easley, a Democrat representing District 18 , which stretches from east Tulsa to the western shores of Grand Lake (PDF map), no longer lives in her district. She lives in District 34, represented in the State Senate by Randy Brogdon. Senate Republican leader Glenn Coffee issued the following press release today:


OWASSO - State Senator Mary Easley no longer lives in her Senate District and now resides at 19009 Knightsbridge in Owasso, which is located in Senate District 34.

Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee said Easley is skirting state election laws by living in another Senate district while running for reelection in District 18.

"Mary Easley now resides at an Owasso address in Senate District 34. She is clearly skirting state election laws by living at her new address while running for office and voting using an old address," Coffee said.

Coffee said State Senator Randy Brogdon, who represents Owasso in the Oklahoma Senate, has sighted Easley on numerous occasions while he has campaigned in Owasso this year.

"Senator Brogdon was understandably surprised to learn that Mary Easley is now one of his constiuents," said Coffee.

State law requires legislative candidates to reside in the districts in which they run for office. But Easley and her husband now live at their Owasso home, even though Easley is running for reelection using an old address in east Tulsa.

"Mary Easley has left her district behind. How can she represent the people of District 18 when she doesn't even want to live there?" Coffee stated.



Southwestern Bell Yellow-Pages
Rogers County Property Taxes

The funny thing about this is that the existing district lines were drawn in 2001 to the specifications of Mary Easley and her son Kevin Easley, whom she succeeded as State Senator. Mary had represented House District 78 since 1996, and with Kevin approaching term limits, Mary had the HD 78 lines redrawn to overlap SD 18, to allow her to replace him. Surely she could have had the lines for SD 18 drawn to include the location of her dream home in Owasso, too.

There is a state law (51 O. S. 8) that causes a seat to become vacant if an elected official moves out of the district that elected her. It isn't clear who has the power to make that determination.

But the voters of SD 18 could make that determination themselves, and deny Mary Easley another term in office.

(The campaign flyer scan you see above was found at oksenatedemocrats.com, which has scans of all the mail pieces that both campaigns have sent out, flavored with Democratic spin, of course. Very interesting if you like the nuts and bolts of campaigns.)

Here are links to the websites for candidates for District Judge and Associate District Judge on the ballot in Tulsa County.

(Added on November 4: Party registration, as of the date of filing. Although judicial races are non-partisan, voter registration is a matter of public record, and I believe the public has a right to know it, as one more piece of information to weigh. At a national level, Republicans and Democrats have different ideological approaches to the role of the judiciary, and party registration may be an indication of a judge's ideology.)

Office 1 (elected from Tulsa and Pawnee Counties, replacing retiring Judge Ronald Shaffer):

Cliff Smith (D)
Bill Kellough (D)

Office 4 (elected from electoral district 4 in Tulsa County, replacing retiring Judge David Peterson):

Jim Caputo (R)
Daman Cantrell (D)

Office 8 (elected from electoral district 5 in Tulsa County; Thornbrugh is the incumbent):

Tom Thornbrugh (R)
Gregg Graves (D)

Office 10 (elected from Tulsa and Pawnee Counties, replacing Judge Gregory Frizzell, who has been nominated to be a Federal judge):

Deirdre Dexter (R)
Mary Fitzgerald (R)

Office 13 (elected from Tulsa and Pawnee Counties; Shallcross is the incumbent):

Jonathan Sutton (R)
Deborah Shallcross (D) (warning: obnoxious Flash video and sound plays automatically)

Tulsa County Associate District Judge (Wall is the incumbent):

Dana Kuehn (R)
Caroline Wall (R)

And here's my attempt at explaining the various ways we elect the 14 District Judges that serve Tulsa and Pawnee Counties.

This page, on the website of the Tulsa County Democratic Party's website, features endorsements by individual Democrats -- elected officials, former candidates, party officials, and other activists -- of candidates for District Judge. I'm not aware of an equivalent page featuring Republican opinions, although you will find lists of endorsers on most of the judicial candidate websites.

There is this disclaimer at the top of the page:

The following are endorsements for judicial candidates in Tulsa County by Democrats registered in Tulsa County. Judicial candidates stand for election on a non-partisan basis. Party affiliation should not be a factor in these races. We have included the endorsements for those who are not familiar with the judicial candidates, so you can learn about them by reading the opinions of Democrats that you do know. The Tulsa County Democratic Party is not endorsing any of the following candidates.

In several races, there are endorsers for both candidates, and it's interesting to read the reasons given for supporting a candidate. Most candidates seem to get bipartisan support, so if you're a conservative Republican like me, don't assume that a judicial candidate backed by a liberal Democrat would be unacceptable to you.

"Who should I vote for?"


A friend with a worried expression on her face stopped me at church today to ask the above question. I told her -- and those of you with the same question -- to stay tuned to batesline.com. Starting tomorrow night, I'll be writing about statewide, legislative, and Tulsa County races, state questions. My Urban Tulsa Weekly column, out this Wednesday, will deal with the judicial retention ballot and the local district court races. I've got plenty of material to share, and this week will be devoted to putting that information in your hands.


There's one statewide race that ought to matter more than any other to Oklahoma voters. That's the race for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. In addition to overseeing Oklahoma's oil and gas industry, the OCC regulates public utilities like PSO, ONG, and AT&T (formerly Southwestern Bell).

Considering the amount of money at stake in the OCC's decisions on utility rates, the commission is ripe for corruption. And indeed, in the late '80s and early '90s, the FBI investigated bribery allegations involving the OCC. Corporation Commissioner Bob Hopkins, a Democrat, was convicted of bribery and sent to jail, as was utility lobbyist Bill Anderson. The culture of corruption at the OCC was cracked open because, in 1989, a newly-elected commissioner went to Feds when Anderson offered him cash.

That commissioner was Bob Anthony, a man of honesty and fairness. In Anthony, Oklahoma's utility ratepayers have someone who is looking out for their interests. Regulated companies, whether large or small, get a fair shake from Bob Anthony.

In 1995, Bob Anthony received an award from the FBI for his involvement in the corruption investigation. (Click that link for the text of his commendation.)

During his campaign, an attorney who practiced before the Commission greeted him with a handshake that contained an envelope with ten $100 bills. Mr. Anthony contacted the United States Attorney's office and agreed to participate and work with the FBI as a cooperative and covert witness. He knew at that time that his role would certainly be revealed at trial, and that the eventual proceedings in court might damage his ability not only to be a public servant, but to work in any public service career in the state of Oklahoma. The investigation which he caused, supported and worked in lasted approximately six years. Evidence which he developed involved illegal payments of $10,000. He made over 150 tape recordings that helped broaden the scope of the case to include another fellow commissioner and a local telephone company.

By 1992, word of the investigation and Mr. Anthony's cooperation had reached the news media. Determined to meet his duty as an elected public servant, he publicly commented on the case, explaining his part, but only to the extent required to fulfill his public duties. As a result of his inability to comment fully on the case, because he intended to protect the integrity of the investigation, the press had a field day with respect to him and his own reputation. For over two years he was featured as a "snitch" and a political opportunist, as well as being the subject of several leading cartoonists for the media. It wasn't until the case went to trial in 1994 that the full story was revealed and Mr. Anthony was vindicated when the full facts of his cooperation, dedication and sacrifice were announced in a public forum. In the interim, his campaign for a seat in the United States House of Representatives was defeated and he only narrowly won reelection to the Commission itself.

In the end, two subjects were convicted of bribery, and a clear message was sent to the leadership of both the business and political communities of Oklahoma that such conduct would not be tolerated. Mr. Anthony, by this award, joins a very select group of awardees who exemplify the tremendous courage and sacrifice that people have shown--particularly people who have put themselves and their families' welfare at jeopardy to do the right thing to support an investigation. That is a critically important commitment--when one puts his own life and welfare directly on the line. It is only with that premise and support and cooperation that the FBI, or any law enforcement organization, can do the job it is supposed to do, which is protect the people.

In 2000, Anthony was elected to a third term with the highest number of votes in Oklahoma history. This year, he's being challenged by former Corporation Commissioner Cody Graves.

Cody Graves is a big baby. In January 1995, a pay raise approved by the Legislature for elected officials went into effect, but under the Oklahoma Constitution, a pay raise isn't allowed to go into effect in the middle of an executive officer's term. Corporation Commissioner's terms are six years, staggered so only one is up for election every two years. Anthony asked for and received an Attorney General's opinion clarifying that the Legislature could not nullify that provision of the Constitution. The ruling meant that Graves would not get the raise until January 1999. (Anthony would not be eligible until January 2001.)

Graves was so angry at the ruling he quit. Graves then became a lobbyist for the very companies he had been regulating.

So what do you think, Oklahoma? Shall we replace a man of principle and courage with someone who is evidently motivated by money above all else?

I was disgusted, but not surprised, to learn today that Graves has been endorsed by former Corporation Commissioners J. C. Watts and Ed Apple, both Republicans, along with all other living former commissioners, all Democrats. (Presumably Commissioner Hopkins, the convicted felon, is dead and could not be reached for comment.) Given that Democrat former commissioners were in office when the culture of corruption was in full swing, it's no wonder that they'd want Anthony out of office, since his courage put a stop to the walking-around money. During Apple's time in office, he was a consistent vote for whatever the utilities and the big energy companies wanted.

As for J. C. Watts, a web search turned up this about Watts' election to and tenure on the Corporation Commission. On March 1, 1991, the FBI recorded a phone conversation between Watts and Bill Anderson, then representing the interests of independent telephone companies. This was at a time when Bob Anthony was pushing for 35-mile toll-free calling zones in each of Oklahoma's metro areas, a move opposed by these small-town phone companies who derived a lot of revenue from town-to-town tolls. In the conversation, Anderson discusses arrangements for delivering $1,500 to Watts, in advance of a March 6 cutoff for campaign contributions to his 1990 campaign account. Anderson had a practice of bundling cash contributions with a long enough list of names that it could be claimed that each name had given $200, the threshold for public reporting of a campaign contribution.

Watts was with State Rep. Kevin Cox that day:

Anderson said "And hell, I'll just, if he's with you, you just come to the door and I'll just hand you the cash. Kevin needn't know. You, just tell him you need to come by and get a message from me or something."

Later that day, FBI agents observed Watts coming to Anderson's house. Watts told the FBI that he didn't recall picking up a contribution from Anderson. Perhaps he was borrowing a cup of sugar.

The good ol' boys, Republicans and Democrats alike, aren't happy that there's someone on the Corporation Commission who has this as his mission statement:

On January 9, 1989 I accepted a position of public trust and took a constitutional oath to enforce the law, supervise rates, correct abuses, and prevent extortion and discrimination by regulated companies.

The rest of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, need to give Bob Anthony another six-year term to look out for our best interests.


Here is a PBS Frontline interview with Bob Anthony about his cooperation with the FBI in the Corporation Commission bribery investigation.

(Anthony makes reference in the interview to a case before the commission involving Nora and Eugene Lum, associates of Bill Clinton, and the main subjects of the Frontline episode. Here are statements from Nolanda Butler Hill and Stephen Dresch about the case, which connects to late Commerce Secretary and DNC chairman Ron Brown, Clinton adviser Mack McLarty, and one-time Democratic 1st District congressional candidate Stuart Price.)

Here is a table showing the membership of the OCC since statehood.

Here's a 1999 article by, of all people, Oklahoma Observer editor Frosty Troy, detailing Anthony's achievements.

(I have to take issue with the comparison of Anthony to Henry Bellmon. Anthony is beloved by grassroots Republicans, while Bellmon earned their distrust on issues like the Panama Canal and higher taxes. Anthony gets standing ovations, not boos or hisses, at Republican conventions.)

Anthony's website includes a sweet trip down memory lane, recalling his first campaign in 1988, traveling Oklahoma accompanied by his wife and four school-aged daughters.

OU poli-sci professor Keith Gaddie has done a statewide poll for TVPoll.com and Oklahoma City's News 9. The sample size was 921, which gives a margin of error of +/-3.23%.

You've probably already heard a summary of the results, but you can also download the details of the poll, including extensive crosstabs, which break the results down by sex, congressional district, political party registration, ideology, and support for President Bush (who has, by the way, a 57% approval rating in Oklahoma). There's also a thorough disclosure of the methodology used.

Some notes:

  • Brad Henry has a 65% approval rating, Istook has a 50% favorability rating statewide. Henry leads Istook, 59.5 to 33.2, with a tiny 7.3% undecided.
  • Attorney General Drew Edmondson is the only other candidate with more than 50% in this poll.
  • There's a strong partisan split on all the races except for governor, attorney general, and corporation commission -- Henry and Edmondson have the support of 28% and 25% of Republicans respectively, while Bob Anthony has the support of 25% of the Democrats.
  • 43% of the sample identified as very or somewhat conservative -- almost evenly divided between the two choices, 22% as very or somewhat liberal, 33% as moderate.
  • 61% said they attend church at least once a week.
  • In the strongly Republican 1st Congressional District, Henry leads Istook 55-36, Askins leads Hiett 49-41, and Edmondson leads Dunn 54-33. Treasurer Scott Meacham and his challenger Howard Barnett are in a dead heat in CD 1.
  • Even among very conservative voters, Henry has a 48% approval rating.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from October 2006.

Oklahoma Politics: August 2006 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: November 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]