Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sooner Tea Party Member Defends His Tactics: Gerhart's Emails to Oklahoma State Senator under Fire

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Sooner Tea Party Member Defends His Tactics: Gerhart's Emails to Oklahoma State Senator under Fire

Article excerpt

The tea party activist at the center of a political storm defended the tactics he used to communicate with a state senator Monday, saying that politics is battle and often, tough words are used.

However, at least one other state tea party group criticized the exchange, saying political activist Al Gerhart did not speak for them.

During a press conference Tuesday at the state Capitol, Gerhart, a carpenter-turned-political activist, said he was not advocating violence or trying to blackmail state Sen. Cliff Branan, R-Oklahoma City, or his family. Gerhart said he was engaging in political advocacy.

"Political advocacy, however, is not blackmail," Gearhart said. "It is a core First Amendment right, constitutionally permissible and constitutionally protected."

Many people, he said, may take issue with the Sooner Tea Party over its tactics.

"We do not disagree with them," Gerhart said. "Many people don't have the stomach for what we do. They might take offense at how we do things, but the one thing they cannot deny is that the Sooner Tea Party is unprecedented about getting our view across; we make them listen. We are effective."

Gerhart said the fight with Branan was about House Bill 1412, a bill by state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Bethany, that would prevent the cities and municipal governments from adopting polices that infringe on personal property rights.

He said the bill would prevent the adoption of the United Nations' Agenda 21 program.

"Agenda 21 is about taking private property through use restrictions," Gerhart said. "It is promoted by radical environmentalists, animal right activists and those with extreme social agendas."

On Monday, Gerhart sent a series of emails to Branan demanding that the senator hear the bill. Branan is chairman of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

"Get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it," Gerhart wrote in an email to Branan. …

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