Sooner Tea Party co-founder Al Gerhart scored a win in court Tuesday when prosecutors dropped an accusation against him that he violated a grand jury secrecy order.
Gerhart, 54, of Oklahoma City, still faces a blackmail charge.
Gerhart told The Oklahoman on April 15 that he appeared before the state's 13th multicounty grand jury during its investigation of a 2006 victory party for Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.
Gerhart claims disclosures by the Sooner Tea Party prompted the investigation of the victory party. He claims Prater charged him with blackmail as payback.
Assistant Attorney General George Burnett on April 23 asked the grand jury's judge to consider finding Gerhart in indirect contempt of court. The prosecutor alleged then that Gerhart violated the judge's order not to disclose grand jury testimony.
Gerhart contended the judge's order no longer applied to him because the 13th grand jury had finished its work.
Before disbanding, the grand jury itself revealed in a public report that it investigated allegations about the victory party. The grand jury cleared Prater of any wrongdoing.
After meeting with Gerhart and his attorney Tuesday, Burnett withdrew the accusation.
“Based on the court order and the proceedings, we believe that he was not in indirect contempt,” Burnett told The Oklahoman. “We just wanted to ferret out the issues that were in your article.”
In his blackmail case, Gerhart is accused of promising in an email to make a state senator a laughingstock 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.