First District Decision: Swamp or Solid

Tim Harris (left), moderator Jim Mazzei and Kevin Hern (right) at July Oklahoma Opportunity Project debate.

Analysis: There is an old saying, “Advocates and elected officials come and go, but bureaucrats run the show” which applies at County, State and Federal levels. If that makes you angry; understand that the connected protected don’t care. They just smile and carry on.

It’s critical Oklahomans make the right choice for the 1st District of Congress. Patriots demand Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law and courage to support President Donald Trump’s specific conservative populist agenda.

Republicans decide August 28th between Tim Harris and Kevin Hern (links to candidate web sites). Both have been interviewed by this writer for Tulsa Today and those interviews will remain available online (click here for Tim Harris and click here for Kevin Hern). This analysis goes further to consider the level of trust in what they have said.

Kevin Hern

At his core, Kevin Hern is a businessman. He has participated in Republican organizations and events and is known as a friend of former-Sen. Tom Coburn.  We will talk more of Hern in the next edition of First District Decision.

Tim Harris was long the Tulsa County District Attorney and, in that job, faced many of the pressures congressional representatives face. The County Court System is a byzantine world of legal eagles with competing agendas and a separate, if not aloof, culture. How that works for citizens is open for debate, but Harris has played a major role locally.

Tim Harris

In a fight to keep his job the record shows Harris welcomed money from Allen Smallwood, a renowned criminal defense attorney. ($500 recorded July 3, 2006) Smallwood represented Deidre Jane Tucker, a Glennpool teacher who left her 5-yr old son in a Suburban on “a 99-degree day in 2003 for more than six hours causing the baby to die of hyperthermia,” the associated press reported.

Harris said at the time he had no intention to seek jail time for the mother. “Certainly all along I felt a deferred sentence was appropriate,” Harris said. Why did Harris feel “all along” that cooking a child in a car for eight hours was no big deal? Harris told the press he did not even “want Tucker to lose her teaching certificate.”

Smallwood in 2009, represented Roman L. Jasinski, former artistic director of the Tulsa Ballet, who received two-year probation upon pleading no contest to felony embezzlement ($20,000.00) in a case involving his mother, Tulsa Ballet co-founder Moscelyne Larkin.

Harris and Smallwood were professionally on opposite sides yet campaign donations from Smallwood and other criminal defense attorneys flowed into Harris’ campaigns.

Oklahoma judicial races are nonpartisan, but that’s a political two-step. Nonpartisan really means without principle because parties establish principles on which they encourage candidates to run. If the objective is to eliminate politics from the courthouse, reasonable citizens would think law must first forbid defense attorneys giving prosecution attorneys money.

In the Tulsa Today interview Harris repeatedly referenced his 28 years of experience as a district attorney saying, “We filed about 6,000 felonies, an equal number of misdemeanors and 1,700 juvenile cases both deprived and delinquency per year… We took to the courtroom just over 100 felony cases a year.” That’s a lot of horse trading.

Harris said, “I negotiated many more cases than I ever tried. Knowing how to negotiate with the other side to accomplish good-for-all is a very important skillset that I will use to serve the people of the First District in Washington.”

Swamp people negotiate. Congress should stand for the people, but a district attorney stands with law enforcement on behalf of citizens so how did police view Tim Harris? In a Tulsa World story by Ziva Branstetter in 2003 police accused Harris of putting budget concerns over his sworn duty to pursue prosecutions.

The story details changes made in the criminal charging policy. Harris’ policy states, “This office requires that the fact and evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the state be beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Tim Harris

Police Chief Dave Been then told the newspaper, “It obviously makes our job tougher, but the big issue is it makes things less safe for the citizens. Obviously, conviction rates are better if you only take to trial those slam-dunk cases.”

Branstetter wrote, “Jerry Truster, a former chief prosecutor under longtime Tulsa District Attorney Buddy Fallis, said Harris’ attitude toward prosecutions is ‘180 degrees different’ from Fallis’ attitudes. Truster also worked as an assistant under LaFortune, Richardson and Harris before leaving eight months into Harris’ tenure.

“The thing that bothered me most about Tim’s administration was a comment he made in a staff meeting that I couldn’t believe I was hearing. Tim says to his staff, ‘We file way too many criminal charges, and from now on the standard of proof in the office of filing a charge is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.'”  Click here to read more from the Tulsa World.

Should he win the primary, Harris asserts that he wants to be on the Congressional Judicial Committee and he told Tulsa Today, “As a DA, I never looked or cared in which political party someone was registered. Now I think America has morphed to a point at which party affiliation seems more important than supporting the nation’s interests.”

Apparently, Harris is not following the Democrat Party’s dive into socialism. That gateway to totalitarianism, economic failure, and chaos throughout history is specifically seen in humanitarian disaster today in Venezuela – once the richest country in South America.

OK Opportunity Project debate. Photo David Arnett

In the forum sponsored by the Oklahoma Opportunity Project, Harris also said he wanted special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s tediously long investigation of no identified crime to continue. Apparently, Harris still believes the Justice Department and the FBI are honest forthright advocates for the people – not coup plotting ideologues, but if a swamp mentality can be judged by what Harris did as DA, details often dance to agenda driven tunes.

By accepting donations from criminal attorneys and changing standards of prosecution to what would make his leadership appear more successful, Harris did no service to justice in Tulsa.

In Congress, there is less oversight and more opportunity for disingenuous pontifications.

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