State Rep. Sally Kern said Monday she was the first to alert a Baptist newspaper that it had made an error in printing a copy of her "Proclamation for Morality” with a fake endorsement from the governor. The Baptist Messenger, the official newspaper of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, published Kern’s proclamation in its July 16 edition, making the document appear to be on state of Oklahoma "executive department” letterhead, complete with the state seal and signatures of Gov. Brad Henry and Secretary of State Susan Savage. Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said she saw the Baptist Messenger when her husband, the Rev. Steve Kern, a Baptist pastor, brought a copy home last week. She said they contacted the newspaper’s leaders about it and learned that someone had made the mistake unintentionally. "Looked like he tried to doctor it up to make it look nice,” Kern said. "They tried to make it appear like the governor had signed it.” Kern’s proclamation says America’s decline is a result of a decline in moral values and includes a petition for the signatures of people who agree with its premise. Neither Henry nor Savage signed the document, which Kern presented July 2 at the state Capitol. The proclamation is not a proposed piece of legislation. Monday, Scott Phillips, spokesman for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said the Baptist Messenger’s leaders called the offices of Henry and Savage last week and apologized for the error. He said a retraction is printed in the July 23 edition of the weekly newspaper and another retraction will appear in the July 30 edition. Phillips said the Baptist Messenger’s circulation is 68,000. "They apologized profusely,” said Paul Sund, the governor’s spokesman. "We understand that people are human and they make mistakes.” In a written statement he issued Monday, Sund said, "The Baptist Messenger editor indicated that a graphic artist has merged the images of an old state proclamation and the Rep. Kern petition without realizing the old, official state document contained the signatures of the governor and secretary of state. Neither official signed the Rep. Kern petition.” Kern’s proclamation caused a stir when she presented it at the Capitol, with groups of people chanting and singing both in support and opposition of the document.
Benge, R-Tulsa"We have had reservations about this office for quite some time and this grand jury report validates our concerns. Fortunately, the office is now under new management and we are working with the new administration to restore public confidence in the medical examiner’s office. Some have pointed blame at a lack of funding, and while that plays a role, this report shows a complete abdication of administrative responsibility, which caused us to lose confidence in the office.”
Coffee, R-Oklahoma City"I have voiced concerns and proposed various solutions for the office of the chief medical examiner over the past several legislative sessions. I am pleased that the grand jury took seriously the concerns many have expressed regarding the conduct of key personnel within this important agency and investigated.” NOLAN CLAY, STAFF WRITER