Get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it. I will make you the laughing stock of the Senate if I don't hear this bill will be heard and passed. We will dig in your past, yoru (sic) family, your associates and once we start there will be no end to it. That is a promise.
An email from Al Gerhart, Sooner Tea Party co-founder, professional carpenter, and now accused felon, to a state legislator
That was the electronic message that landed Mr. Gerhart in court on Friday. The charge is blackmail. Big Al sent the subtle note to Oklahoma state senator and fellow republican Cliff Brannan. The bill he was talking about had been authored by tea party quack and nationally known homophobe, Sally Kern. Kern is in the Oklahoma state house of representatives and she had written and managed to push through the measure, which would prohibit, "any city, town, or county from adopting, or implementing policy recommendations," that were established by what is known as the United Nations Agenda 21 initiative.
As you might guess, most Oklahomans haven't the slightest idea what Agenda 21 is and really wouldn't give a rat's ass about it even if they did. Luckily for us, patriots such as Kern and Gerhart are on guard at the gates. U.N. Agenda 21 is a voluntary and nonbinding program. Voluntary, meaning no one is going to make you do anything and nonbinding as in there aren't any Agenda 21 cops patrolling the skies in black helicopters to enforce it. It deals with a number of issues which are the usual leftist suspects. Health is one--poverty, population growth, deforestation, the rights of indigenous peoples and the empowerment of children and women are others.
To get to the senate floor for a vote, this cracker jack piece of legislation had to make it through Brannan's committee first. The email was Brother Gerhart's way of urging the senator get on top of the situation.
I'll have to admit that up until the moment reporter Nolan Clay of The Oklahoman broke this story in early April, I'd never heard of Al Gerhart. I don't usually hang out with tea party types, at least not knowingly, and in truth, I don't give a shit what the Oklahoma republican party does in private. I have always felt that as long as people like them don't commit overt acts against nature it is none of my business. However, after doing a little research it turns out Mr. Gerhart has quite the reputation among fellow travelers on the conservative side of the tracks. In fact he is utterly loathed by many of them. He has been accused of having no conscience, of being a "destuctor," and guilty of committing indiscriminate acts of slander and libel. And these are the people who vote the same way he does.
It would seem his accusers have an argument. When initially interviewed by Clay for the paper Gerhart said of Brannan, "We want to know what is going on down there. We want to know if his wife has a criminal history. We want to know everything about him. We want to find out if this man is a responsible citizen, if he's even got his family under control, much less his office."
Yes, things get strange at 23rd and Lincoln in Oklahoma City. Brannan gave the email to a highway patrol officer, who in turn gave it to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Gerhart called a press conference and claimed rumors in the senate were that Brannan had done so because he was afraid an "infidelity" would be exposed. Later he said the "scuttlebut" was that Brannan had indeed had an affair with a staffer, gone to his wife to ask for a divorce, then, ultimately, was spurned by the aide. Brannnan, in effect, said it was all bullshit. Gerhart has never offered any proof and at one point admitted he had none.
So now Al Gerhart sits accused of blackmail. During a hearing on Friday a judge refused to throw the charges out and ordered him to stand trial. Gerhart claims the email was free speech. Clay writes he told media members afterward, "Your First Amendment rights are on trial, not just mine."
While that sentiment might sound noble, our man Al has a severe problem. Oklahoma law states blackmail can involve, "a written communication that threatens to expose information about someone which would in any way subject that person to the ridicule and contempt of society. In addition, blackmail occurs if the communication is meant to "extort or gain anything of value from another, or to compel another to do an act against his or her will."
Oops. That line about making Brannan the laughing stock of the senate suddenly seems not only terribly crude, but a tad felonious. Especially after Brannan testified Friday that, while his decision regarding the bill hadn't been finalized when he received the email, he had been inclined to kill it, because, in his words, "I felt it was a solution to a problem that didn't exist."
Clay reports, Assistant D.A. Robert McClatchie asked Brannan, "Did you believe it (the email) was trying to make you do something you didn't want to do?" Brannan answered, "Yes. I definitely felt threatened."
Gerhart is scheduled for another hearing on the 18th of this month. It is unclear if he will wear a crown of thorns when he attends since his transition from vicious bully to martyr has been quick and complete. Indeed, in his mind, he is just another carpenter being dragged toward a cruel end by a ruthless establishment.
At this point all the rest of us can be sure of is that this self proclaimed advocate for the common person currently stands neck deep in trouble. And--in all honestly, from this side of the lake anyway, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
sic vita est