Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Grand Jury Continues Probe into TABOR Drive

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Grand Jury Continues Probe into TABOR Drive

Article excerpt

Susan Johnson, president of the Michigan-based group that managed petition circulators for last year's Taxpayer Bill of Rights drive, appeared at the Oklahoma County courthouse Tuesday as the multicounty grand jury continued its probe into the signature- gathering effort.

Recently, a Michigan judge ordered Johnson, who heads National Voter Outreach, to come to Oklahoma in response to a subpoena issued for the grand jury.

Also on hand were Rick Carpenter, chairman of Oklahomans in Action, which launched the petition drive in Oklahoma, and Marilyn Hughes, executive director of the state Ethics Commission.

The grand jury has been investigating the TABOR petition drive for several months.

Last fall, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the TABOR petition, issuing an opinion highly critical of the use of out-of- state circulators in the drive seeking enough voter signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

In Oklahoma, petition circulators must be qualified electors, who must be eligible to register to vote. One qualification for voter registration is Oklahoma residency.

Johnson's Oklahoma attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid, filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf Monday challenging the constitutionality of the Oklahoma requirements.

Johnson said the state law severely limits First Amendment rights and the use of the initiative process.

"Make no mistake, the good old boys who want to abolish the rights of the people to vote on their own legislation, and who are trying to send their political opponents to jail, have picked on the wrong American," she said.

Johnson said she will not be intimidated.

"By filing in federal court, I expect to have my day in a fair court, and on a level playing field," she said.

Named as defendants, in their official capacities, are Gov. Brad Henry, Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Secretary of State Susan Savage. …

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