Jailing of petition rights advocate threatens free speech


NEWS BULLETIN: This case impacts your free speech rights

Oct. 2nd, three people were indicted in Oklahoma, accused of committing fraud against the state. One of those arrested was Paul Jacob who has spent much of his life promoting petition rights and advocating for term limits around the country (He also recently spoke the Executive Club last year). What were their nefarious acts? Apparently they encouraged non-residents to move to Oklahoma to circulate initiative petitions. Unlike most states, Oklahoma requires petition circulators to become residents, however no one was exactly sure what that meant in this context.

Not even the Oklahoma State Elections Board could be trusted when it informed them that any US citizen could become a resident by entering Oklahoma with intent to reside. Since “intent” is highly personal thing (it exists in your mind) one would assume that you could take a person’s word once they swear that they have it. So when circulators from neighboring states wanted to work in Oklahoma, each had to acknowledge that they knew about the residency requirement, swearing their intent to become Oklahoma residents.

Previous Oklahoma initiative petition campaigns (such as the union-driven minimum wage increase measure) had used circulators who claimed residency upon moving into Oklahoma (no polygraph required), but were not threatened with prosecution. The difference may be that the Oklahoma 3 worked on a measure opposed by the Attorney General (the Oklahoma Tabor Spending Limit) and he saw an opportunity to send a message.

So, several months after the petition drive, in a union-driven challenge to a petition, it was found that some of the petition circulators had since left the state. Now Oklahoma doesn’t have a “durational residency requirement” for voting so it is not clear why this should have been a problem (you can register to vote in OK even if you plan to leave the day after the election),. Nevertheless, such requirements were imposed on petition circulators and their declarations of intent to become residents were regarded as invalid. This ruse allowed Oklahoma courts to void tens of thousands of (otherwise legitimate) signatures and thereby prevent Oklahomans from voting on the measure.

Not satisfied with simply thwarting the will Oklahoma voters, the Attorney General spent the next year conducting a witch hunt against the Oklahoma 3 before two grand juries before gaining indictments last week. The chief petitioner was charged with a felony for turning in signatures gathered by people who were not in fact residents (even though they swore otherwise). The petition company president was charged with a felony for hiring people who were insincere about their residency intentions. And one poor soul was charged with a felony for just encouraging people from other states to circulate (as residents) in Oklahoma – that “poor soul” is Paul Jacob.

Oklamhoma State Senator Randy Brogdon made this statement:

Brogdon said the only crime committed was the disenfranchisement of over 300,000 Oklahoma voters who expressed their voice by exercising their Constitutional rights. “It appears Drew Edmondson [Attorney General] is more concerned with protecting his own political power than he is with preserving, protecting, and defending the right of Oklahomans to free speech,” Brogdon added. “This is nothing less than an attack on our Republican form of government.”


Here is a statement by Paul Jacob:

This indictment unsealed today is not about the law, but rather 100 percent politically motivated. This is politics””very ugly politics. The highest legal office in the state of Oklahoma seems bent on silencing citizens through harassment and intimidation, threats and coercion. The goal is to silence me, and to frighten you, from petitioning our government.

Those who attempt to put citizens in charge of government spending decisions, through initiatives like the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or any other issue that rankles the powerful political forces of a state, can expect to face an onslaught by the full powers of the government.

This is yet another round in the age-old attempt to stop ideas by force, by harassment, by imprisonment, by anything except a better idea. Oklahomans, your attorney general is not practicing democracy. He is practicing the politics of destruction. It won’t work.

This indictment will not stand. I will fight it with every fiber of my being. And I know that, in the end, those who misuse the power of their office for political advantage, employing ugly and un-democratic tactics, will ultimately face an indictment of their own. My life, my family, my children are being threatened here”¦for what? For what?

I have committed no crime. Unless the heartfelt desire to place government under the control of its citizens is now illegal. But this cannot be so. There is much bluster in this indictment. Yet what is my actual offense but that of daring to help Oklahoma voters hold an election to decide an issue? No, I don’t deserve to go to prison for being politically active. I know that. You know that. Mr. Edmondson should know that, too.

The State of Oklahoma threatens me and others with prison to prevent our involvement in political life and to chill the speech and assembly of others who might wish to become involved. Involved in working to hold an election. To give Oklahomans a vote on an issue. One might expect this kind of repression in Egypt or Iran or China. But not Oklahoma…

For more information on what happened (and how you can help) go to www.FreePaulJacob.com.

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Posted by at 05:20 | Posted in Measure 37 | 14 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Homer

    Jailing of people circulating petitions.

    Didn’t that type of thing happened to the founding fathers who circulated the Declaration of Independence?

    The Attorney General is acting like King George, including the madness.

  • John Fairplay

    Constitutional rights sure aren’t what they used to be. From petitioning for a redress of grievances in Oklahoma to compensation for taking of property in Oregon, freedom is under attack everywhere. If you don’t speak up for them now, there may not be anyone to speak up when they come for you.

    • Homer

      I never knew Oklahoma was such a liberal state.

  • Patty Wents

    C’mon you paleos, grab a sense of humor … this is just one of those “get out of jail” fundraisers for a union Local, you know, where you call all your friends and they bail you out with a donation to a non-profit in the community. I’ve got the Gov. looking into doing in in Oregon, too. It’s going over great with folks in Oklahoma!

  • CRAWDUDE

    Wait until they start doing similar things here……………….I’m not a big Sizemore fan but the minute he circulated a anti-public union petition and also threathened Metro was when the stae went after him.

    I don’t know if you read the paper much but many of the judgements against him have been thrown out on appeal, I’m curious how much substance there was to them to begin with.

    I remeber a few years ago the liberals cried crocodile tears because of a practice of fishing for a ballot totle, this year when THEY voted for M49 THEY didn’t go through the normal fishing process, they gave it a bogus name and sent it out. Another example of liberal hypocrasy!

    • Wondering

      Why are you not a big Sizemore fan? Isn’t it because you know he plays dirty? Why else would you feel you have to qualify your statement by saying you are not a fan? It wasn’t his threatening Metro that got him in trouble, it was his attacks on public employee unions and their use of dues for politics, so the unions went after him. You don’t really believe the “state went after him” do you? If they did, he would have faced criminal charges but he didn’t because the state didn’t do their job. Neither did the newspapers, or you would know there was “much substance” to the charges against him. The problem with Sizemore was the unions were politically motivated but they also actually found out he was breaking the law. They would never have won a judgment against him if he had been playing by the rules.

      • observer

        At the risk of enabling a thread hijack, I think we should be clear on one thing.

        The unions didn’t win a judgment against Sizemore.

        They won a judgment against his organization using the civil RICO statutes. The “pattern” of “corrupt activities” leading to the RICO verdict was largely based on the admitted forgeries committed by employees Kelly Highley and Becky Miller.

        Kelly was convicted for her forgeries and has since dropped out of politics altogether.

        Becky cut an deal immunity deal for her forgeries in exchange for testimony against Sizemore. Although she contends Sizemore broke campaign finance reporting laws and generally operates with shady motives, she acknowledges that he never asked her to commit any forgeries.

        You can read some of the story from her side at her blog PreemptiveKarma.com

        • CRAWDUDE

          Hmmmmm, I’m wondering what Wondering is wondering now…..

          • Wondering

            I’m wondering why you don’t go on over to this site and educate yourself: http://www.oregoned.org/site/apps/nl/newsletter2.asp?c=9dKKKYMDH&b=3075493

          • observer

            We should all “educate” ourselves about that trial through a website maintained by a plaintiff in that case (the state’s largest teachers union)?

            I was even-handed in my description of the events, I don’t need to re-educate myself through their lens.

          • Wondering

            Facts are facts, “observer” (BS?). An intelligent person can see through the spin and look at the hard evidence and see that for themselves. Are you afraid for people to look at the site, because you should be.

            Still waiting for an answer to my question, Crawdude.

          • CRAWDUDE

            Well, if observers statements are correct this Becky lady was granted immunity from “criminal” prosecution to testify in a “civil “trial against Sizemore. That in its self would appear to be a link between the state and the various unions involved in the suit.

            After looking up many stories I found a dated one from the Portland Trib.

            “Miller’s immunity deal with the Oregon Department of Justice protects her from criminal and civil charges for violations of state elections laws, Neely said. Such agreements aren’t unusual and serve as a tool for prosecutors. They’re often spelled out in writing and sometimes come with conditions, such as giving testimony in future investigations”. Prosecuters? it was a civil trial…..

            Once again, prosecuters gave immunity to a person for testimony she was to give at a civil trial. That sounds like the unions and state were working hand in hand.

            I guess one could make any inference they want from the information about this trial depending on their initative process opinions. I happen to see a collusion between the unions and state, others may see a civil trial, I doubt any of us are going to change our minds.

            Now as for my Metro comment on un May of 1997 Sizemore circulated a petition to abolish metro that had decent statewide support which scared the crap out of the local governments in the Metro area. He withdrew it when he decided to run for governor ( no, I didn’t vote for him).

            I feel he sealed his fate by scaring the establishment, and they used the unions case to rid themselves of a problem. Reading the case above, his groups were found guilty not him personally (ruling by a judge). 1 of his employees pled guilty and was sentenced, the other was given immunity from prosecution to testify in a civil lawsuit but no criminal case was ever filed against Sizemore……………why the immunity deal?

            Unfortunately he’s innocent until proven guilty in this country, like so many other shady characters………..he hasn’t been. The state I believe has shown what its willing to do if you make too many waves.

            The above of course are my opinions and not meant to demean the opinions of others.

          • Wondering

            I’m also wondering why you didn’t answer my question.

  • George

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