Cockfighting Decision Requires Tossing out TABOR Challenges in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Thousands of challenges to Taxpayer Bill of Rights petition signatures should be rejected because protestants used methods criticized by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in the 2001 cockfighting- petition decision, an attorney said Wednesday.

Kieran Maye Jr., representing TABOR proponents, told court referee Greg Albert that those challenging the ballot proposal used Larry Wood, the consultant who oversaw the cockfighting-petition challenge, and the same methods for reviewing and questioning signatures.

Of course, you're going to get the same result, Maye said.

Albert also served as referee in the cockfighting case.

They have no evidence, none, that meets the requirements of the cockfighting case, Maye said.

Among other issues, the court was critical of an exact match signature-challenge approach in that case.

Looking at the situation in the best light for them, Maye argued, protestants have about 68,044 signatures on their side of the case, which is below the 79,465 they must successfully challenge to keep the TABOR proposal off the ballot.

However, protestants' attorney Mary Robertson said that counting signatures obtained by challenged circulators, those with un- rebutted notary problems and more than 109,000 voter registration challenges, the total is 161,234 challenged signatures.

Robertson said this does not include possibly thousands more signatures obtained by circulators brought into Oklahoma by National Voter Outreach, the organization that operated the signature drive for Oklahomans in Action.

Maye has filed a motion with the supreme court to direct Albert to exclude 84,346 signature challenges tendered for the first time on Sunday.

The drive resulted in petitions with 299,029 signatures being filed with the secretary of state. To be placed on the ballot, the TABOR proposal must have at least 219,564 valid voter signatures.

Protestants' attorneys said they have been trying to subpoena Susan Johnson, NVO president, and Jeff Johnson, with politicalactivists.org, who managed the Tulsa portion of the drive.

They have asked for a continuance in the case as they continue these efforts.

On Wednesday, they filed a supplement to this motion, detailing a noontime anonymous telephone call from someone who said he had worked for NVO in Oklahoma on the TABOR petition.

According to the filing, the caller said he knew he was someone the protestants were looking for but could not find. During part of the call, he alleged illegal immigrants were used in the drive, and that circulators were taken to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain Oklahoma photo identifications so they would appear to be residents.

The filing states that the caller indicated contact with TABOR proponents' attorneys, who were planning to bring him in to testify.

A call transcript states that the caller said, I'm in a position right now where I'm getting ready to go down there. I'm going to be compensated well for it.

The caller is also quoted as saying that he has information that would help protestants in their challenge, according to the transcript.

Because of his unhappiness with NVO and the way he was treated in another petition drive, he was willing to come to Oklahoma and tell his story, which he believed would be adverse to proponent's position, the filing states.

The caller, who referred to himself as a professional petitioner according to the transcript, also indicated knowledge of out-of- state circulators being used on the TABOR drive. …

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