Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The state appears to be inconsistent on its Oklahomans-only rule

Published October 17, 2007 05:55 pm

Initiative fairness

Oklahoma cockfighters — former cockfighters, that is — bring up an excellent point about recent state indictments of out-of-state petitioners.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson defended the indictments of three petitioners seeking to put a taxpayer bill of rights on the ballot in Oklahoma.

"... we expect the laws to be followed and we will take action when they are violated," Edmondson said in a state story last Sunday.

The week before, a Virginia man, a Michigan woman, and the Tulsa head of a citizen advocacy group were charged with conspiracy to defraud the state by using petition circulators for the TABOR proposal who were not state residents.

Cockfighters are contending the same standard was not applied leading up to the 2002 petition initiative vote that made cockfighting a felony in Oklahoma. They say out-of-state organizers and circulators were used in that initiative drive.

In fact, according to stories published on the Humane Society of the United States' Web site, the organization and one other one were involved in organizing the Oklahoma initiative petition against cockfighting.

"The Oklahoma Coalition Against Cockfighting, an alliance of local and national animal protection, law enforcement and civic organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals, submitted 99,750 signatures in December 1999, in support of a petition to make cockfighting illegal," a Nov. 13, 2001 HSUS story reads.

Muskogee resident Tony Villalobos claims that circulators were relocated here by the HSUS to collect signatures, and in fact, a Supreme Court referee invalidated thousands of those signatures.

That same referee, Gregory Albert, ruled on the TABOR initiative, invalidating nearly 57,000 signatures that involved out-of-state circulators. The difference in the two initiatives is that the Supreme Court overruled Albert's disqualification of signatures, which placed the cockfighting ban on the state ballot.

We are not encouraging a revisit of the 2002 state vote, but the state appears to be inconsistent on its Oklahomans-only rule. That's not good for Oklahomans just as it's not good for outsiders to dictate what happens in Oklahoma.


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