Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Al Gerhart Wins First Amendment Case

Tea Party Activist, Al Gerhart; and former Senator, Cliff Branan.

Conviction Overturned On 1st Amendment Grounds

  After a jury initially found Sooner Tea Party activist, Al Gerhart, guilty of blackmail for his communications with Senator Cliff Branan; the judges of the Oklahoma Court of Appeals said his first amendment rights were violated by the conviction.
 KFOR News reports:
  In May 2014, Sooner Tea Party leader Al Gerhart was found guilty of blackmailing a state senator and violating the Computer Crimes Act.
The controversial email which led to felony charges against Gerhart.

  Prosecutors claimed Gerhart sent an email to Oklahoma Sen. Cliff Branan, allegedly promising to make the senator a “laughing stock” unless the Senate Energy and Environment Committee passed a bill that would block a United Nations plan.
  Branan served as chairman of the committee and held sole power to keep any legislation in his committee from even getting an initial 'up or down' vote in order to be considered by the entire legislative body.
  Branan no longer serves in the legislature and his bid to be elected to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission fell short in June of 2014.

Branan issued a statement early in the 2013 session:
  Republican Sen. Cliff Branan, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, told The Associated Press  that he'd decided not to hear the measure at the panel's Thursday meeting, likely killing it for this year's legislative session. 
  Branan said the bill is based on a "fringe conspiracy" that the U.N. wants to use its Agenda 21 plan to encroach on the private property rights of Americans.
   But the Enid News reports that the bill which Branan decided was "too looney" to be voted upon was already approved by the 101 members of the Oklahoma House of representatives:
  Agenda 21 was the product of a 1992 U.N. conference in Brazil that aimed to encourage environmentally friendly and sustainable practices around the world. It includes suggestions from the international level down to cities and towns. Many conservatives have latched onto those local provisions, seeing them as a U.N. attempt to influence American affairs. 
  The bill, first introduced by Oklahoma City Rep. Sally Kern, would have prohibited towns or counties from implementing any part of the nonbinding, voluntary plan. It also would have restricted the state or any subdivisions from working with U.N.-affiliated groups. The bill passed the House 67-17.
David Van Risseghem
  Mr. Gerhart has long been a known entity in Oklahoma political circles and his reputation is more for his "take no prisoners" mindset than for his diplomatic grace in schmoozing lawmakers.
  His initial conviction had left grassroots activists with a chilling sense of alarm at the potential for courts to be used in silencing a citizen's right to redress of grievance.
  We look forward to hearing plenty from the Gerhart legal team.
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