Sooner Tea Party co-founder charged with blackmailing Oklahoma state senator

Al Gerhart was charged Tuesday with two felonies involving an email that threatened a state senator to pass a bill.
by Nolan Clay Published: April 9, 2013

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater commended Branan for reporting the email.

“I believe he was very courageous in the way he handled this knowing there could be further repercussions to him or to his family,” Prater said Tuesday. “The manner in which Sen. Branan has handled this situation will hopefully prevent this … from happening in the future.”

Branan said Tuesday that once he turned the email over, it was “out of his hands.”

“It's up to a judge or a jury of his peers,” the senator said. “It's not for me to determine what happens next. … Let me … tell you how uncomfortable this is for me and my family. This is not anything that I asked to have thrown in my lap. I trust in our system. It's up for a jury of his peers to really determine.”

A judge Tuesday set bail at $15,000. The judge also said Gerhart must stay at least 1,000 feet away from the senator and the senator's family if he is able to post bail.

Under Oklahoma law, blackmail can involve a written communication that threatens to expose information about someone “which would in any way subject such person to the ridicule or contempt of society.”

Under the law, blackmail occurs if the intent of the communication is “to extort or gain any thing of value from another or to compel another to do an act against his or her will.”

House Bill 1412

Branan's committee never took up House Bill 1412 — the legislation addressing the U.N. plan — so that bill is now dead.

The bill prohibited any city, town or county from adopting or implementing policy recommendations established by the United Nations' Agenda 21 sustainable development action plan. The House passed it 67-17. Supporters claimed the bill would protect the property rights of individual citizens, but Branan called it “a fringe conspiracy issue that is frankly just bad public policy.”

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
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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