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Sooner Tea Party co-founder accused of violating grand jury secrecy order

Sooner Tea Party co-founder Al Gerhart, who recently was charged with blackmail of a state legislator, now is accused of violating a judge's order to keep his grand jury testimony secret.
by Nolan Clay Modified: April 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm •  Published: April 25, 2013
/articleid/3802899/1/pictures/2035350">Photo - Al Gerhart speaks to the media April 2 at a state Capitol news conference.  Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoman
Al Gerhart speaks to the media April 2 at a state Capitol news conference. Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoman

Gerhart said Wednesday the judge's order didn't apply to him anymore.

“Here's the thing. That grand jury is over with. That means that the prohibition against a witness talking about what he knows is no longer in effect,” he said, referring to a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court opinion.

Before disbanding last year, the 13th multicounty grand jury itself revealed in a 25-page report that it had investigated Prater's victory party. Grand jurors cleared Prater of wrongdoing.

It also revealed in a perjury indictment against a restaurant owner that Gerhart was a witness before the grand jury.

In his blackmail case, Gerhart is accused of promising in an email to make a state senator a laughing stock unless legislation passed. Gerhart admits he sent the email March 26 to Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City. Gerhart contends the email is constitutionally protected free speech.

Misspelling one word, Gerhart wrote: “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 that this bill will be heard and passed. We will dig into your past, yoru family, your associates and once we start on you there will be no end to it. This is a promise.”

by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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