Politicians are notorious for passing laws and then exempting themselves from their consequences. For example, congressional leaders are considering a proposal to exempt federal lawmakers and their staff from Obamacare. In Oklahoma, one lawmaker apparently thinks politicians should be protected from hearing that people pay attention to how they vote.
During the recent debate on workers' compensation system overhaul, Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, filed an amendment declaring, “No lobbyist ... shall threaten a legislator in any manner whatsoever that they will seek to find a primary or general election opponent to run against the legislator for acting or failing to act in their official capacity as a legislator.”
Apparently, someone had the temerity to suggest the comp issue was important enough that the bill's supporters might recruit and fund candidates to run against lawmakers who opposed reform. In other words: People might engage in the democratic election process. The horror!
Some may see this “threat” as comparable to the actions that led to Al Gerhart's indictment for felony blackmail, but the two cases aren't comparable. Gerhart not only demanded action on a particular bill, but also vowed to “dig” into Sen. Cliff Branan's family and associates if the bill wasn't heard. Gerhart followed through by accusing Branan of marital infidelity. Had Gerhart simply promised to seek Branan's defeat in political races, he would not face blackmail charges.
If Inman thinks he's being extorted, he should do what Branan did and report the threat to the authorities. Otherwise, he should grow a thicker skin and move on rather than file frivolous amendments. Heaven help us if lawmakers ever gain the power to prevent Oklahoma voters from disagreeing with the public actions of politicians or seeking to replace incumbent lawmakers at the polling place.