Big news in Okie City

  • KTOK: Governor Denies Breaking Pledge
      Governor Brad Henry denies he broke a campaign pledge made to the Green Party in which he said he would support a death penalty moratorium in Oklahoma. Henry blames the confusion on a misunderstanding by a campaign aide who apparently answered the Green Party’s political questionnaire last October. The governor’s Communications Director Paul Sund says the governor has never supported such a moratorium and strongly supports the state’s capitol punishment system. He explained a campaign aide must have ‘misinterrpted’ what Henry had said in giving a response to the questionnaire. Henry was the only one of three candidates for governor to respond to the Green Party. Sund further explained Henry received many questionnaires to answer and it was easy to understand the confusion. No explanation was offered why Henry did not make the denial at the time the questionnaire was made public. Green Party leaders say they’re disappointed the governor broke his promise. (JB)

    Here’s the story behind the story. Back in the fall of 2002, the Green Party of Oklahoma formed an informal committee to send a questionaire to each of the candidates in the US congressional and state-wide races. Most of the candidates did not respond to this questionaire, but a few did including Democratic candidate Brad Henry (who is now Governor Henry).

    In my eyes (and many other Green party members’ eyes), Henry’s statement was downright extraordinary in that he gave clear statements in favor of increased third party ballot access and a moratorium on the death penalty. (Click here to read his statement) Due to these statements, I voted for Henry. I didn’t care for his views on other issues (especially the lottery) but felt morally obligated to vote for him since he was against the death penalty to at least some extent.

    Henry ended up winning in a nailbiter of election (a few thousand votes being the spread), and I attended his inauguration a few weeks ago.

    Then, Henry did something that was surprising. Here is my letter to the editor to the Oklahoma Gazette that tells the story:

      Editor,

      I am ashamed to say today that I voted for Brad Henry. I did this despite my loathing of his lottery proposal (in my eyes, a cruel tax against the poor and desperate) because he stated during his campaign that he would support a moratorium on the death penalty.

      His actual words were, “Yes, I would support a moratorium on the death penalty. Events in Oklahoma over the past two years in which DNA has exonerated several inmates concern me greatly. I never want to see any innocent person imprisoned or put to death. I believe a moratorium is responsible action to take until we can be sure that no innocent person is sitting on death row.” (Henry’s statement can be found in the candidate questionaire found at www.okgreens.org)

      Today, I read in the AP story “Henry won’t stop executions” (January 16, 2003) that he “has no plans to stop executions in Oklahoma” and that he sees no reason to end the death penalty in the state and will not second-guess judges and juries.

      It seems to me that Henry’s word is worth about as much as share of Enron stock. It is unfortunate that he has blown his credibility so early in his term of office when our state faces such a tremendous crisis.

      J.M. Branum

      – Newcastle, OK

    (The letter was published in last week’s edition.)

    Finally to bring the story around full circle, KTOK (1000 AM-OKC’s main news-talk station) picked up the story (story was quoted at the top of this post.)

    So there you have it. Not sure what will happen next with this, but it sure is fun to see ol’ Henry squirm. I personally think he isn’t telling the truth about about how his campaign aide “misinterpreted” his response to the questionaire.