But Edmondson, a Democrat, is expected to again fire up the legal engines against Jacob and two other conservative activists in what’s considered a ploy by the AG to win political support.
Edmondson announced two months ago that a multi-county grand jury had indicted Jacob and two others on felony charges of hiring non-Oklahoma signature gatherers for a ballot initiative to create a taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR). Jacob is president of ballot-initiative group Citizens in Charge and senior adviser with the pro-taxpayer Sam Adams Alliance.
The indictment against Jacob, Susan Johnson of National Outreach and Rick Carpenter of Oklahomans in Action – charged them with one count of violating the state’s Petition and Referendum Act. The so-called ‘Oklahoma 3′ face a maximum of 10 years jail if convicted.
Jacob, a long-time proponent of citizen-initiated referenda, accused Edmondson’s office of intimidation by pursuing the indictment. “Their prosecution is a 100-percent politically-motivated attempt to threaten and intimidate me, and any other citizens wishing to petition their government,” he stated on blogsite FreePaulJacob.
Edmondson suffered a setback recently when his indictment was dismissed on a legal technicality over the multi-county grand jury. However, the AG is expected to directly re-file the indictment shortly, Ballot Access reported.
Despite this, Edmondson recently defended his actions in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. “[T]hrough their allegedly illegal actions, Carpenter, Jacob and Johnson silenced the voices of the Oklahoma voters who signed the initiative petition,” the AG wrote. “This scheme to circumvent Oklahoma’s residency requirement caused the entire petition to be scrapped.”
Opponents of the indictment point out, however, that Edmondson’s logic suggests that Oklahoma residents who vote in elections knowing they will be moving out of state soon afterwards could also face criminal charges.
A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal also noted that those opposing ballot initiatives like TABOR are legally allowed to recruit out-of-state money and bodies to boost their efforts.
“[P]ublic sector unions opposed to the Tabor initiative recruited people from outfits like the Oregon-based Voter Education Project, an offshoot of the AFL-CIO that specializes in countering signature drives.