The man who last fall began planning to take control of the Oklahoma Republican Party was at the time a registered Independent voter, Oklahoma County Election Board records show. Al Gerhart of the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance, who has stirred emotions and controversy both within and without his group with his talk of an armed citizen militia and attacks on GOP State Chairman Gary Jones, changed his registration to Republican at year’s end.
As related below on this page, Gerhart outlined his plan to take control of the state GOP in a website posting six months ago. Meanwhile, the fallout from Gearhart’s statements during a Tea Party rally continues.
Stuart Jolly, head of Oklahomans For Prosperity, announced over the weekend his group is withdrawing from Gerhart’s group because of Gerhart’s statements and today, Jolly released an email he sent Gerhart:
Remember back to when we launched the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance (OCA), the intent was for us to coalesce around issues we all agreed upon and let our member organizations fight the others on their own. This alliance "contract" in my opinion has been broken.
It became very apparent to me at the tea party on Thursday as speaker after speaker advocated and discussed "militias" (legitimate or not), even though, we have never had a conversation in our coalition about it AND it was not what we were there for!! We were there to rally against our freedoms and liberties being taken away. To rally against the federal/local government’s spending, debt, and overzealous intrusions into our lives – but we were not there to discuss militias (legitimate or not) or attack the GOP. For the most part, we were so off message that it probably did more damage to our tea party movement than anything we could have done otherwise. "Militia talk" is a quick trip to obscurity in my opinion.
Now let me address who didn’t do us any favors: Unfortunately it’s you, Al. Your personal attack of Gary Jones and the GOP was a shocking disclosure to both me and hundreds of others attending the event. Why you felt the need to express a personal opinion of anyone other than liberals at a tea party is unfathomable. And get this, most of the attendees had no idea what you were talking about.
This incident, as with the militias, was not what were were there for! The OCA is not "coming for" Gary Jones! This OCA is not trying to take over the GOP! Where did all of that come from? Did I miss the meeting where that was discussed? Yes, you may have a personal beef with Gary – then take it up with Gary or run for chair of the state GOP yourself. Whether you like it or not, Al, when you speak at a forum hosted by OCA, you are speaking for the organization.
Because of these two incidents, Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma will regrettably be disassociating itself from the OCA immediately. I will work with those who want to work on issues that will increase the education of Oklahomans on fiscal, liberty, and freedom issues, but I CANNOT allow AFP (and our 20,000 Oklahoma members) to be associated with an organization that conducts its business in the manner I saw this week. It was not what I signed on for or thought I was signing on for.
Al Gerhart’s other goal: The takeover of the Oklahoma Republican Party as mentioned above is also hitting the fan with increased attention statewide. Last week, he lashed out at GOP State Chairman Gary Jones, a move that, combined with his talk of an armed citizen militia to confront the federal government, prompted lots of talk about his "far out" rhetoric and concern about whether he’d taken over the Tea Party movement in Oklahoma City.
Last October, Gerhart outlined his plan to wrest control of the Oklahoma Republican Party as he wrote on the Sooner Tea Party website, (we’ve not corrected any grammatical errors):
"Currently the Republican party is being controlled by liberal Republicans and that must be changed. Here in Oklahoma, starting a third party is nearly impossible ballot restrictions. Therefore, we have three choices, reform the Republican party, reform the Democratic party, or ram through ballot laws that open up Oklahoma to a viable third party.
"The Democratic party is most likely too far away from us in political theory and practice and changing ballot laws is a task for a well developed political machine. That leaves us with reforming the Republican party out of necessity.
"The idea of retaking the Republican party is spreading. At this website, they discuss exactly what can be gained, how precarious the establishments hold on power truly is and what it takes to get there.
"We are lucky to be living in Oklahoma, the reddest of the red states, but we need to improve upon our position by helping conservative Republicans to take control of their party. This will require us to register as Republicans, then spend a few hours for a few days attending Republican precinct events.
"What is to be gained is largely symbolic yet there are practical gains, the power to endorse Republican candidates, the power to educate future and present Republican party members, and most importantly, a very public bloody nose to the present Republican party leadership."
Last week, Gerhart sent an email in which he paints GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Brogdon as an integral part of his plan. Brogdon backers say Gerhart wrote this without Brogdon’s knowledge or permission. A Brogdon spokesperson told The McCarville Report Online Sunday afternoon, "No, the senator knew nothing about the email; it was written without his knowledge. He is not on that group’s list so we would have never seen it if you had not shared it."