The Old-School Liberal

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom” — Friedrich Hayek

Oklahoma Believes in Free Speech*

Posted by Poorsummary on October 18, 2007

*Not really. It turns out that if you circulate petitions in Oklahoma, but you are not an Oklahoma resident, you owe the state $1,000 and/or a year of your life in a county jail. Here’s the down and dirty in legalese:

“It shall be unlawful for any person other than a qualified elector of the state of Oklahoma [citizens of the United States, over the age of eighteen (18) years, who are bona fide Oklahoma residents] to circulate any initiative or referendum petition to amend, add to, delete, strike or otherwise change in any way the Constitution or laws of the State of Oklahoma, or of any subdivision of the State of Oklahoma . . . . Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed one (1) year, or by both said fine and imprisonment.”

You might think you could circumvent this seemingly unconstitutional law by simply moving into the state, declaring residency, and then moving out after you’ve circulated your petitions. In this case, however, you’d be committing fraud against the state, which will land you up to 10 years– TEN YEARS– in prison, plus a $25,000 fine.

Now this is more than one of those obnoxious, but oft ignored laws, such as not making clam chowder in Boston with a tomato. In fact, grassroots political activist Paul Jacob faces these very charges. And what was the subversive legislation he was trying to pass? State-sponsored Satanism? Federally mandated gay marriage? Nope: Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). That’s right, this guy could end up spending a decade in the slammer because he organized people from other states to help mobilize Oklahoma voters to limit the ability of bureaucrats to dole out taxpayers’ money to special interest groups without taxpayer consent. Remarkable.

Learn more about Paul Jacobs and how you can help end a politically motivated abuse of power here. Learn more about what makes a law a good law here.

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4 Responses to “Oklahoma Believes in Free Speech*”

  1. Cramer said

    WHOOOOO Oklahoma Roooolz!!!

  2. oskarlange said

    Yes it does, and with an iron fist when it comes to petition circulation.

  3. Good post — one correction though. Paul Jacob has worked on many term limits initiatives, of course; and he is a former president of U.S. Term Limits. But the recent Oklahoma initiative he worked on, the one that has led to the attorney general’s ludicrous indictment of Paul Jacob, Susan Johnson, and Rick Carpenter, was about a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) question, not term limits. In his account of the situation, Paul notes that he did work on term limits initiatives in Oklahoma in 1994 and 1996. See “Statement of Paul Jacob” at freepauljacob.com.

  4. oskarlange said

    Thanks David. I’ve updated the article to reflect your correction. Frankly, limiting the government’s control of taxpayer money is probably an even more worth cause than term limits, though both are admiral. I sincerely hope this injustice is rectified.

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