As we told you some months ago, the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) is not only the most powerful conservative organization in the state, it is also a front for the John Birch Society. Our story mentioned conservative infighting between OCPAC leader Charlie Meadows and Al Gerhart, who runs the Sooner Tea Party. On Wednesday of this week, Gerhart was found guilty of trying to blackmail an Oklahoma legislator into allowing an anti-Agenda 21 bill to pass.
Gerhart, 55, faced up to 10 years in prison and $15,000 in fines on the two felonies. He turned down a plea deal before trial that would have given him unsupervised probation for a year and no felony convictions.
A dejected Gerhart said the verdicts against him “just chills free speech.”
“Who is going to want to risk holding a politician accountable at this point?” he said. “I lost a thousand dollars. I became a felon. I lost my voting rights. I lost my gun rights. I’m probably getting off easy compared to the rest of society, though.”
I believe it was this past Wednesday evening that folks started sending me a link to a you-tube video about OCPAC and Bonds. Turns out, even though my name is mentioned frequently, make no mistake, as it is an attack upon OCPAC for being so effective.
Al Gerhart and the Sooner Tea Party are also mentioned, but it is in no way an attack upon either of them. By now almost everyone suspects that there is little left of the Sooner Tea Party, I believe it is primarily a one man show, with Al as the marginalized director. Al has proven he can’t walk with anyone for any length of time before he turns on them and thus he is now considered as the kiss of death to virtually any politician he proclaims to help. Al and the STP are only in this to try and bring harm to OCPAC through the old adage of “destruction by association”.
The rivalry was one-sided: Gerhart was jealous of OCPAC’s success; Meadows was dismissive of Gerhart’s irrelevance. Nor did Meadows mention the matter again in his newsletter until Gerhart was charged in April 2013 for sending a threatening email to Oklahoma Senator Cliff Branan.
Unless you live in a cave, you are now aware of the despicable e-mail sent to Senator Branan regarding legislation Al wanted heard and the speculative silliness about Senator Branan’s personal life and that of his wife. Even though the actions by Gerhart have earned him felony charges of bribery and computer crimes, which I believe are a real stretch, Al must surely be in hog heaven with all the attention he is getting. I believe Al thrives off of attention, good or bad, and as such is probably playing the “political persecution victim card” to the hilt. I believe Al measures his worth by the amount of attention he is getting and his name and picture have been in the press often and will continue if his case eventually goes to trial. On the other hand, I am very confident Senator Branan never intended to allow the bill pushing back against the United Nation’s Agenda 21 plans to be heard. Al’s foolishness, allowed Cliff the perfect political cover to play the threatened victim and thus not allow the bill to be heard. I wonder if these 2 guys are secretly toasting each other?
Although he shared the same belief system as Meadows, Gerhart did not identify himself as a Bircher. When he adopted the tea party label, Gerhart had no place in the Kremlinology of Oklahoma’s conservative scenes because he was dismissive of them all. By 2013, he was a lone dissident, and OCPAC might have been the most powerful conservative organization in the state of Oklahoma. The tea party movement concealed a resurgence of the JBS in recent years, but in the end, the tea party activist was left on the outside of the ‘outside group’ looking in. We sense a metaphor here for a much larger theme about the history of tea party activism.
Video: Meadows telling a December, 2012 OCPAC luncheon that they are under attack because they are effective
Video: from 2010: Gerhart tells Chris Matthews that America needs the militia movement to keep federal power in check