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.

[poll id=”91″]

Tom Tillison

Tom Tillison

Tom is a grassroots activist who distinguished himself as one of the top conservative bloggers in Florida before joining BizPac Review.
Tom Tillison

Comments

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

  1. WhoHasMyChange says:

    Branan needs to toughen up a little bit and quit being a whiner. It’s obvious that he’s not doing his job because, as a Republican, if he was truly representing his constituents’ best interest then he would already be under fire with much more dire threats from the far left.

  2. Kenny Hopkins says:

    This is clearly a threat – and not a 1st amendment issue – clearly illegal – anyone that would say different has a political agenda or is an idiot. And I am a Republican!

  3. aliswell says:

    This case will be dismissed if an honest judge can be found. What a ridiculous charge! Limp-wristed, pansy-assed squirt of a senator needs to pull up his big boy pants and man up. “Oooooh, it’s just so intimidating when people tell me to do my job,” whined the much put upon Senator with a distinct lisp.

  4. 1AuntLinda1 says:

    IMHO the mistake Gerhart made was ending a sentence with β€œor I will make sure you regret not doing it.” Why do you ever need to get that nasty, anyway? All you have to say is that you will work terrifically to get them out of office in the next election cycle. See?Short, sweet and civil.

  5. Michael B says:

    Spineless politician: he was threatened with LOSING THE NEXT ELECTION.

  6. Douglas W. Rodrigues says:

    the Sooner TEA Party should now proceed with the background investigations they promised against that Senator. Maybe do one on the Judge and prosecutor too. Democrtats have done such background investigations on political opponents for years.

  7. jimkress says:

    I feel this way after every political action in the local, State and Federal Government. Can I get them all thrown in jail, too?

    “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.”

  8. Mike Thatcher Macaluso says:

    The judge should surely be impeached. The ONLY thing the Senator would have to worry about (according to the email) would be IF he has some time of shady past. NOTHING felonious here.

Comments are closed.

Related Posts