Tea party pressure shows up in Oklahoma governor's office emails about Obamacare

Tea party activists used aggressive tactics to pressure Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin to reject Obamacare, and some claimed victory, though they didn't do as well in elections
by Chris Casteel Published: April 15, 2013

photo - Al Gerhart Co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party
Al Gerhart Co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party

State Rep. Glen Mulready, who carried legislation to establish a state health insurance marketplace in Oklahoma in 2011, was a top target of tea party activists and was challenged in the Republican primary in Tulsa by Darren Gantz, who worked with Tackett in Oklahomans for Liberty.

Gantz got less than 38 percent of the vote and raised about $31,000, with much of that coming from groups of trial lawyers opposed to tort reform.

Mulready raised about $74,000 for the primary, with financial support from medical and insurance groups, among others.

Tackett ran for a state House seat as a Republican and got 46 percent of the vote against Democrat Wade Rousselot, who received financial backing from a wide range of interest groups, many of which typically support Republicans.

Tackett and other tea party activists accused Fallin of helping Rousselot, of Wagoner, by allowing him to use a picture of the governor in his campaign materials.

Northrup, Fallin's chief of staff, seemed to cheer Tackett's defeat, even though he lost to a Democrat. Northrup referenced the race in an email after the election last year while noting that Tackett had confused Medicare and Medicaid in a blog posting.

“And nice to know we didn't elect someone who doesn't know the difference between medicare and medicaid for petes sake!!!!” Northrup wrote.

In-your-face tactics

In November, Gerhart tried to rally his email following to call Fallin's office before she made decisions on whether to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange.

“Tell her that Medicaid shouldn't be expanded and that any form of Health Insurance Exchange will be a personal slap in your face that will be remembered come election time in 2014,” he wrote.

According to his own newsletters, which were emailed regularly to the governor's office and were among the 50,000 health care related documents released by the governor's office two weeks ago, Gerhart relished — and possibly embellished — his in-your-face tactics.

In a newsletter from April 2012 emailed to Fallin's aide Altshuler, Gerhart said he had confronted state Treasurer Ken Miller at the state Capitol about Miller's position as co-chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in Oklahoma.

“Miller had stepped up to be a Co Chair for the Romney campaign but quickly dropped out of sight after I collared him in the hallway of the Capitol on opening day of the legislative session. All it took was to remind him that he would be ripping the scab off what he and I had going back in 2010 and that the Ron Paul activists were itching to bring out the KenMillerLied.com signs…”

Gerhart was referring to an effort alleging Miller backed tax increases as a legislator, a charge Miller denied.

Miller's spokesman, Tim Allen, said last week that the treasurer recalled a brief conversation with Gerhart about their roles in the presidential race but didn't remember it being confrontational. Moreover, Allen said, Miller maintained an active role in Romney's campaign.


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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