Tea party leader to be tried on felony charges over email to elected official

tea-party

Photo Credit AlaskaDispatch.com

Before firing off that next email to an elected official, you’d better cross your fingers and hope the politician is not feeling anxious about your message.

A judge in Oklahoma Friday ordered the co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party to be tried on felony blackmail and computer crimes charges for sending an email to a state senator who said he felt threatened by its tone, The Associated Press reported.

The judge ruled that probable cause exists that Al Gerhart committed the crimes when he sent an email allegedly designed to intimidate Oklahoma state Sen. Cliff Branan, the Republican chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.

At issue was a bill that Branan refused to schedule for a hearing in his committee, saying the House-passed measure was based on a “fringe conspiracy,” according to the AP.

Gerhart’s email demands that Branan give the measure a hearing, “or I will make sure you regret not doing it.”

“I will make you the laughing stock of the Senate if I don’t hear that this bill will be heard and passed,” the email said. “We will dig into your past, your family, your associates, and once we start on you there will be no end to it.”

Branan testified that he was anxious and felt threatened after reading the email, saying it was an attempt to force him to do something against his will.

The senator told an investigator that Gerhart was in a “Rolodex of crazy people” — not the first time tea party members have been classified in such a manner.

“It just kind of got the hair up on the back of my neck,” he said. “It was not your normal email. He had woven family into the email. My two young children are out of bounds.”

“Your First Amendment rights are in trouble, not just mine,” Gerhart said after a preliminary hearing where prosecutors presented their evidence.

In the end, is the email political speech protected by the First Amendment — an argument rejected by the judge — or did the tea party leader go too far and did his threatening tone amount to blackmail?

It’s certain elected officials around the country will be paying attention to the case, because the ruling could bring a whole new element to silencing dissent.

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About Tom Tillison

Tom is a grassroots activist who distinguished himself as one of the top conservative bloggers in Florida before joining BizPac Review. He can be reached at tom@bizpacreview.com

  • Edward A. Hensley

    I saw no threat of physical violence, direct or implied.
    This leaves the emails in question protected political
    speech, IMHO. The 1st amendment protects free
    speech, not just nice speech. Impeach that judge!

    • Guest

      Save your breath and the electrons, Nelson is Obammy’s little lap dog and always will be.

  • http://grumpyelder.com/ Grumpy

    Hmmm — I was about to send Bill Nelson an email telling him that if he supported Obama’s efforts to train, arm and finance Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, as well as bomb Al Qaeda’s enemies he’d be making a mistake.

    Doing so would forever link him, and us, to the atrocities the rebels commit daily..

    Not only that, if the stuff Obama is so generously offering offering the rebels with know ties to Al Qaeda happens to get used in other places we, the United States, will be a sponsor of Global Islamic Terrorism..

    Maybe I should reconsider..

    • Alan R. Thomas

      Just remind him of the Nuremberg trials and suggest a vote for action in Syria COULD result in his 1st hand experience of what these Nazis went through after WWII.

    • PAWatcher

      Just the reaction they are hoping for………silence from the silent majority.
      Progressives will send threats to Sarah Palin’s family and her ilk with impunity and get a laugh about it on TV ta boot!
      The persecution of conservatives and Christians is open season by order of the WH thug in chief. He IS an islamic terrorist following the dreams from his father.

      • Teresa

        We are better than the progressives and I want us act better than them. Not like them

        • PAWatcher

          Silence is not golden……….except in meditation IMHO. Fear of speaking the truth is tyranny.
          So, Teresa, you think you are better than progressives? I think my ideas are better than progressives’ and should be voiced.

        • Les Legato

          “Political correctness is tyranny with manners. ”

          – Charlton Heston,

          • Mike Thatcher Macaluso

            Yes, of course we are better than them… THAT is why we MUST be outspoken. We can always be far more civil, but we MUST speak loudly.

      • bill0

        Christian conservatives have a persecution complex.

        • Conservative NOT Racist

          Liberal idiots are pathological liars and are clinically insane to boot.

        • Les Legato

          Don’t you have an obama doll to blow somewhere?

    • dba_vagabond_trader

      Not only threatening, I’m sure such an email would be construed as racist and islamophobic.

      • King Umbarrii

        I do want to make sure you know Muslim is not a race. Some people are ignorant about that.

        • dba_vagabond_trader

          I should’ve put the sarc tag in there.

          • Conservative NOT Racist

            Oh, look, you’ve attracted one of the liberal idiots to your posts! You should be proud that you’ve posted something that one of them felt needed a comeback. Even if the comeback is from a moron who is working very hard to become just ignorant. :-)

      • bill0

        No, it would simply be construed as the words of a paranoid lunatic.

    • http://grumpyelder.com/ Grumpy

      Thanks guys

      Vagabond – Pretty sure you’re right.. and as such it would end up in the not counted pile.. or forwarded to Homeland Security..

      Alan- My point exactly, but I’m not overly concerned about a few Senators getting fried in their own grease- I am concerned about the patriotic Americans who wear our uniform taking the hit if/when the rest of the world decides we acted improperly..

      PAWatcher- Nah,- not in my case. I’m pretty sure Tom Tillison will verify this. I’m not likely to keep my mouth (or keyboard) quiet out of fear… One reason I posted that comment here is because I’m reasonably sure Florida’s Democrats pay attention to Tom’s articles.. Not so sure Florida Pols they pay attention to my website

    • Tristan Chris Heiss

      send it.. if you believe its true send it.. dont let these asssholian commicrats make u a puss

      • BlueMax372

        “Assholian commicrats”. I like that!

    • TwatDoc

      Save your breath and electrons, Nelson will side with obammy no matter what.

    • linreis

      no! send the email. keep it political and not personal.

    • Sheri Sperin

      Go and send the e-mail. I believe the senator is doing this to scare off others from sending him e-mails to thaw any more persuasions to change his mind on subject that matter to his constituents.

      Just make sure that you do not make any reference to any thing that could be misinterpreted as a threat to him personally. Then when reelection time comes around, you can sure get out and make sure he does not get reelected. Another issues is to get behind term limits for those in Congress.

      It is about time there is term limits for those in Congress because some can be dangerous to the U. S. as we have already seen and watched over the past decade.

  • David Steelman

    The only way this e-mail could be considered a Threat would be if the politician has some skeletons in a closet somewhere that he is afraid to have exposed.

    • linreis

      not so sure, but his family and children were mentioned. I think I cn see why offence was taken.

  • http://milkchaser.blogspot.com/ Bob White

    Al Gerhart was over the top. He let his emotions run away from him. I understand the frustration, but that is not a reason to make threats.

    • Tristan Chris Heiss

      he didnt physically threaten him he threatened to dig into his past.. and that scared the politician..like it scares the idoit Obozo.. thats what this is about pre coverup?

    • Sarah4Prez

      He didn’t make any actual physical threats – what he said was tame compared to some of the mud our founders used to sling! This is a very serious 1st amendment issue – get it?

  • GeneralRabble

    Exactly what did he threaten, that government agencies do not already ROUTINELY DO to citizens??? WHAT?

    • jimkress

      Great reply!

  • Terry Rauch

    “or I will make sure you regret not doing it.” is a threatening open ended statement. If your stupid enough to do this, end it with an action. Like: I’ll vote against you, I’ll support whoever runs against you.

    This happens because the tea party has people running them that have no clue how to approach elected leaders to get a positive result. All I see happening here is a great news story about how crazy the tea party is for the liberal media.

    • Mary Beth Washburn

      Have to laugh at the remark “the crazy tea party”. There are multitudes of Tea Party groups. The simple fact that you don’t know that reveals you have very little knowledge about the subject.

    • Conservative NOT Racist

      It’s typical of the uneducated to lump everyone in together. I am a TEA Party member, but not the same one this guy is a member of. And while I post things that liberal idiots hate, I don’t threaten anyone with anything except to withhold my vote and support someone else. Try, very hard, to learn what is really going on out in the world. The FIRST thing you need to learn, as Mary Beth said, is that there ISN’T one TEA Party, and most of them are not stupid enough to send a threatening email to begin with. We just go after the voters. But yeah, if we found something that would help us to get rid of a RINO or an idiot lib, we’d sure as hell use it.

  • Trythis Last

    If I promise to vote against an official and that makes him nervous, then what?

  • liberalsstuckonstupid

    Judges making law instead of making sure law is Constitutional. We have every right to berate our representatives who fail to do what the people ask (they are our employees, let’s always remember that). Hitler would be proud of the Communists and Liberals in the U.S. they have accomplished what Communists could not before. Patriots are you ready to take back this country? If not, find another country to destroy, we want ours back.

    • liberalsstuckonstupid

      They only feel threatened because they are not fulfilling the will of the people. Remember, Hitler killed anyone who spoke against him or his policies.

      • Michael B

        Hitler also mobilized the German Health Services, who eagerly committed people to insane asylums for being crazy enough to oppose the Dear Leader.

        • jimkress

          They did the same in virtually every Communist country.

  • Grant Ritchie

    I can’t imagine this won’t be thrown out of court. What was the judge thinking? Gerhart may be a jerk, but his email doesn’t come anywhere near setting off my “clear and present danger” alarm.

    • Jerry

      He’s thinking YoBama might give him a promotion.

  • Frankie1429

    Over the years, I have been threatened several times. I just roll my eyes and think of the idiot making the threats. But a couple of times, the threat included my family. When they say Family, I go into full defense mode. Threaten me if you want, but threaten my family and you are in for a fight. I would have backed him until he said, “We will dig into your past, your family, your associates, and once we start on you there will be no end to it.” That crosses the line in my book.

    • JHLIII

      I agree – I was with the guy until he did that.

    • Tristan Chris Heiss

      why because of your past? thats what he was afraid of.. digging in his past like obozo.. so I qoute Obozo..’the only people who are afraid of the truth? are people with something to hide’… straight from the king Jackasses mouth.. and he is hiding alot. obozo is an illegal alien criminally occupying the oval office.. who has fraudulent ID uses a SS # that would make him 121 years old if it was indeed his. and forensic scientist proved his BC was a forgery… so my thinking leads me to belive the Senator has something to hide.