Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Defenders Of Liberty Board Announces Honorees

The Report of 

The Defenders of Liberty Awards 

Board of Directors

2015 Defenders of Liberty honorees
  There were thirty six nominees this year and it was very difficult to select winners because all of them are incredible people who work so hard.

 This year it seems that the grassroots have had some significant pushback and discouragement. We have felt a distinct change in politics recently and we want to tell you why, in the end, we think that is a good thing. If you haven’t heard, Speaker John Boehner announced yesterday that he was leaving Congress in the end of October. Immediately the pundits began explaining away this behavior from leadership and chalked it up to those crazy right wing wacko birds holding the rest of Congress hostage.
- 2015 Finalists -
 Steve Byas •  Dr. Everett Piper • Charlie Meadows •    Laurie Philips • Kevin Crow
 • Maggie Abel 
• Carolyn McLarty
 • Porter Davis
 • Pat Campbell 
• Tracey Montgomery
• Bob Donohoo 
• Gary Lanham 
• Diane Engel • Paul and Molly Wehrenberg 
• Darren and Valerie Mudge
 • Summer Izard
 • Janene Wooster
 • Joe Esposito 
• Ralph Crawford
 • Kyletta Ray 
• Charlotte Rutledge Harer 
• Mark Thomas 
• Morgan Dunsmore 
• Kenny Bob Tapp 
• Karen Ann 
• Charles Key 
• Dave Brooke
 • Norma Sapp 
• Lloyd Noble II 
• Tom Culver 
• Terry Flattem 
• Claude Taucher 
• Bill Bickerstaff 
• Larry Williamson 
• Ron Cross
Let us explain exactly why John Boehner is leaving. He is leaving because of the people here in this room tonight. He’s leaving because you all worked to get one of the finest Congressman in Washington elected. He’s leaving because you all made calls on the day of the Speaker vote and overloaded the system. He’s leaving because the people have been sending a message to Washington loud and clear that we are done with allowing our country to be destroyed piece by piece.

  Together, we can and we have made a difference in Oklahoma and in the United States. We want to stand and offer encouragement, but also issue a challenge. We are only this strong when we stand together. We realize we don’t all agree on every issue and think that’s what makes our work so effective. We don’t have to agree on every issue. What we have to agree on is that it’s going to take hard work, determination and civility to ever get anything done. Each and every one of us tonight has a passion to see our country return to our original path of greatness and prosperity. We all have a desire to seek truth, stand on our faith and find productive ways to work towards those goals.

Norma Sapp

The Martin Luther King Jr Award- Recipient Norma Sapp 

   Martin Luther King Jr. was a fighter for justice. He stood up for an issue that was incredibly divisive and deemed radical at the time.
  This award tonight is going to someone who has defended liberty for their issue for over twenty-five years. She has spent her time educating people against the prohibition of hemp and medical marijuana as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Legislation. We realize not everyone in this room agrees with this issue, but that is not what the Defenders of Liberty is about. We are about celebrating the work of activists who work to limit government and defend the liberty of all. Our first award recipient of the evening for the Martin Luther King Jr. award is Norma Sapp.

Steve Byas

The Thomas Jefferson Award- Recipient Steve Byas 

   Thomas Jefferson was known for his wisdom in shaping the nation, but was also known for his inspirational writing. The recipient of the Thomas Jefferson award is a prolific writer.
  He has created a platform to spread the conservative message throughout the state. Additionally, this individual has written for national publications such as the New American, published several books, is the Editor of the Oklahoma Constitution and most importantly spreads his quick wit through Facebook discussions. As grassroots activists,  we are grateful for the work this individual has done in publishing a Conservative Index that holds the legislators more accountable year after year. The winner of the Thomas Jefferson Award is Steve Byas.

Tracey Montgomery

The Lysander Spooner Award- Tracey Montgomery

   This award is for someone who fought hard for their issue during the course of the last year. 
  She has attended meetings, spread information and have advocated for their issue on a subject that has both supporters and detractors among the grassroots. She has shown herself to be a true model of what it means to be a grassroots activist. For her work advocating as a grassroots activist for the Article V Convention of the States, the winner of the Lysander Spooner Award is Tracey Montgomery.

Diane Engel

The Dolly Madison Award- Diane Engel

  Dolly Madison was an active first lady, working behind the scenes and even serving as hostess of the White House after Jefferson’s wife died.
   This activist is always one of the first people to volunteer to help with any event. She  gives of her time freely and take the initiative on herself to get involved in whatever way she can. She is early to help set up and she is late to leave because she helps clean up. She has worked at state committee meetings, young republican events, campaign events, you name it, she has helped and did so with a smile on her face, and kind words to everyone she met. This year’s winner of the Dolly Madison Award is Diane Engel.

Kenny Bob Tapp

The Thomas Paine Award- Kenny Bob Tapp

  Thomas Paine was a philosopher and writer on the fundamental rights of man. He is a constant encouragement to stay engaged.
   This activist has tirelessly attended grassroots and political events in their area. He has always shown up to volunteer and take his role and responsibilities very seriously. This activist has been engaged in every way he can and has driven countless hours  just attend meetings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. We are very excited that he took the long journey tonight to be with us.  The recipient of the Thomas Paine award is Kenny Bob Tapp.

Morgan Dunsmore

The Paul Revere Award- Morgan Dunsmore

  Paul Revere is known for his ride to warn the colonists about the British, but Revere played a significant role in the American Revolution. He was a member of the Sons of Liberty, he participated in the Boston Tea Party Protest and was a general troublemaker.
  Our recipient of the Paul Revere award is the youngest Defender this year, and has already caused a lot of trouble. This activist has inspired young people across the state to start paying attention to politics and find out what they can do to get involved. This activist has sought truth and has a wisdom above her years. We are all quite sure she has a bright future ahead of her. The winner of the Paul Revere award is Morgan Dunsmore.

Charlotte Harer

The Benjamin Franklin Award- Charlotte Harer

   Benjamin Franklin was known for his wisdom and pursuit of knowledge. He was a prolific inventor, writer and philosopher. He was also a mentor to many of the younger founding fathers around him.
  The recipient of the Benjamin Franklin award is someone who has been a mentor to many in this room. She has held positions of leadership for years and has actively sought to bring in more activists and reach out to younger generations. She stands firm in her convictions because she knows how the political game is played and she cares more about doing the right thing than being political. The winner of the Benjamin Franklin award is Charlotte Harer.

Ron Cross
The Patrick Henry Award- Ron Cross

   Patrick Henry was a man of action. This award winner is constantly doing the work and is rarely recognized for it. 
  He spends his own time and money on equipment to help document events, take pictures, record video, upload those videos and images to the website and has assisted the 912 project in maintaining and creating a new website this year. In his free time, he attends other activists meetings in fighting against smart meters, common core and other grassroots battles. He is a man of few words, but many skills. The Patrick Henry award goes to Ron Cross.

Larry Williamson

The Murray Rothbard Award- Larry Williamson 

   Murray Rothbard once said “Rights are universal, but their enforcement must be local.” He understood the importance of fighting issues on the local level. The recipient of the Murray Rothbard Award is someone who who spent this year fighting a very public fight for the very core of local activism.
   As a precinct chair, this activist made his stand to protect the rights of the precinct and uphold the idea that the power of the party lies in the smallest structure at the most local of levels. He defines what it means to be local activist and supporter of grassroots in his own community. The winner of the Murray Rothbard award is Larry Williamson.

Paul and Molly Wehrenberg

The George and Martha Washington Award- Paul and Molly Wehrenberg

   George and Martha Washington were the original political power couple. They worked as a team to define the new roles they were put into.
   This couple who is receiving the George and Martha Washington award this evening have been involved in the political arena for many years they have gone to the Capitol to advocate, made phone calls, hosted meetings and used every tool possible for an activist in order to educate and support those around them. The George and Martha Washington award winners are Paul and Molly Wehrenberg.

David Brooke

The Barry Goldwater Award- David Brooke

  The next award is a new award for this year. We had so many activists who were nominated for good reason.  We chose Barry Goldwater because Goldwater was one of the fathers of the new resurgence of modern conservatism. This would only be possible through his relentless work and encouragement to others. 
  It is only fitting we bestowed the first Barry Goldwater award to someone who has kept up the good fight over the years.  This next activist is someone who is always shows up to help and unselfishly gives of his own time to help support anyone who needs it. He has helped on campaigns, he has helped within the party on the local and state level.  The Barry Goldwater award winner is David Brooke.

Gary Lanham

The James Madison award- Gary Lanham

  The next award is also a new award for this year. We agreed on the James Madison award. While James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution, he was also a coalition builder. 
  This activist has created a non-partisan platform to bring in new discussion and idea. He has worked tirelessly over the last few years to get more people involved in policy, not for the sake of the party, but for the sake of his principles.  The James Madison award goes to Gary Lanham.


The Frederick Douglass Outstanding Achievement Award- OK2A

We created the Frederick Douglass Outstanding Achievement Award to recognize those who have shown us all how good activism can have major victories. This organization has not only worked inside the legislature, it has actively educated citizens on how to assist them in protecting a fundamental right of all citizens.
  This year we wanted to give special recognition to a few who have accomplished a significant grassroots victory across the state.  Over the last session, it sent out countless calls to action showing activists how to participate in the process. Additionally, they release a scorecard after session. This year, the Governor received a C-, in case you were interested. This organization is a model for how every activist can make great strides by taking this one bite at a time.  It is our honor to recognize the board of OK2A for the Frederick Douglass Outstanding Achievement Award of 2015.

Mark Costello

The Samuel Adams Statesman of the Year Award- Mark Costello

  When we began this journey for the Defenders of Liberty awards for grassroots activism, we emphasized that the focus of the awards were for activists and not politicians. We made it a rule that elected officials do not receive awards. That being said, this year the board made a unanimous decision to suspend those rules and award our most prestigious award to an elected official who truly deserved it. The Samuel Adams Statesmen of the Year award is something we created to honor an activist who exemplifies the characteristics of a true statesman. Someone who works within various factions, who achieves significant victories through building coalitions. Someone who is willing to work both behind the scenes and at the forefront.
   He supported the grassroots efforts to combat Common Core in Oklahoma by financially providing for the now famous green shirts. As an elected official, he used his private vehicle to travel around the state. He not only spoke about limiting government, he actually did it by finding efficiencies and taking expenses upon himself, even going so far as to ask if he could forgo his own salary. This year, we wanted to take this time to honor the life of a man who personified these qualities and so much more. He was a huge supporter of this organization and a sponsor throughout the years. Beyond supporting us financially, he would actually show up and celebrate with us, supporting activists across the state. He was a friend, a mentor, a fighter, and always the right fellow. This year’s Samuel Adams Statesman of the Year award is posthumously awarded to our dear friend, Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.

To all the grassroots activists

  We challenge each of you to offer encouragement to one another. We challenge you to approach politics with a positive attitude. And trust us, we understand how difficult a thing that can be. We cannot allow the progressives on the left and the right to tear us apart. When we remain silent, they succeed. And we can tell you those pushing the hardest right now are the ones who are starting to be fearful that we will succeed.  We also challenge you to get to know someone that you don’t already know. When we created Defenders we wanted to celebrate the hard work of statewide activists, but we also wanted to provide a platform for us to get to know each other off of social media to build one-on-one relationships with each other.
  We are so proud of the people and incredibly proud of the work of all the activists. Thank you again for supporting the cause of liberty and taking time out of your busy schedules.
  We want to say a special thank you to the Costello family, Cathy, and Anna-Marie; for accepting this award to help us honor and celebrate the life of our dear friend and supporter, Mark Costello. We believe so much in the work that Mark was doing and hope that his legacy will serve to show others what it means to be a true statesmen. This year the board unanimously decided to rename the Samuel Adams Statesmen of the Year award to the Mark Costello Statesmen of the Year award going forward as tribute to his life and a testament to his character.


  This is the third year for the Defenders of Liberty Grassroots Activism awards. The first year, was a picnic in the backyard of a church, outside, in the heat. The second year, we learned our lesson and had a dinner inside. This year, our goal was to get at least 200 people to attend and we have met that goal. We couldn’t be more excited to see how Defenders is growing each year.
  Last year, we opened up nominations to anyone across the state who wanted to nominate someone. We have simple rules, no elected officials and no one that has previously won an award. We received thirty-six nominations and then had to pick twelve recipients for the awards, but it proved to be too difficult so we added two new awards for this year bringing our total to fourteen.
  We as a board discuss the work that the individuals have done over the last year and vote on each award. The board gives a lot of their own time over a course of many months to prepare for this event. The Defenders of Liberty board consists of Samantha Jones- President, Ronda Vuillemont-Smith - Vice President, Elaine Leone- Secretary, Jenna Vuillemont- Treasurer, TC Ryan, Marlene Lynch and Kaye Beach. We love being a part of this event and hope that we can continue the tradition for years to come.

~ The Board of Directors of the Defenders of Liberty Awards
David Van Risseghem

submit to reddit
"We are so proud of the people and incredibly proud of the work of all the activists."

No comments :

Post a Comment