Indictment lists 3 in TABOR case
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
They are charged
in relation to gathering signatures for a
taxpayer bill of rights
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A
multicounty grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday in
Oklahoma County District
Court names three key figures in the failed effort to put
a taxpayer bill of rights on
state ballots last year.
Tulsan Rick Carpenter, president of Oklahomans in
Action, faces one count of
conspiracy to defraud the
state and one count of filing a
false, fraudulent, felonious
and fictitious initiative petition.
Oklahomans in Action circulated the initiative petition.
Susan Johnson of Michigan, president of National
Voter Outreach, and Paul Jacob of Virginia, of Citizens in
Charge, were charged with
conspiracy to defraud the
Jacob is a leader of the
National Voter Outreach, a
Nevada corporation, was responsible for the circulation and signature collection process, according to the indictment. The group was paid by
Carpenter and Jacob for signatures gathered in support
of the TABOR petition, according to the indictment.
Johnson said she is "absolutely innocent."
"This is ridiculous," she
District Judge Bryan Dixon
entered pleas of not guilty for
Jacob and Carpenter.
The Oklahoma Supreme
Court tossed out the petition
last year, saying it had too
few legal signatures and that
"the evidence supports substantial illegal participation of
Carpenter, Johnson and Jacob were handcuffed together and taken out of the courtroom Tuesday.
They are accused of knowingly and illegally hiring and
using out-of-state residents to
gather signatures in support
of a constitutional amendment that would have set limits on the growth of state
spending and required any
surplus funds to be placed in
a constitutional emergency
"Oklahoma law requires
anyone who circulates a petition be a qualified elector;
that means a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 and a resident of
Oklahoma," said Attorney
General Drew Edmondson,
whose office oversees the
multicounty grand jury. "The
grand jury alleges Carpenter, Jacob and Johnson knew they
were violating Oklahoma statute and engaged in a conspiracy to illegally gather signatures."
Jacob said the charges are
an attack on a person's right to
petition the government.
"It will not stand," he said.
Edmondson called the right
to petition the government
"the very life-blood of the
"The voices of those Oklahomans who chose to support
this petition were silenced because of this alleged conspiracy," he said. "We cannot tolerate schemes designed to manipulate our state's election
Michael Trevino, an Oklahoma City lawyer representing Carpenter, had no comment.
Conspiracy against the state
is punishable by as much as
10 years in prison and a
$25,000 fine. Filing a false,
fraudulent, felonious and fictitious initiative petition is punishable by as much as two years in prison and a $500 fine.
Both are felonies, said Charlie
Price, a spokesman for Edmondson.
Oklahoma's residency requirement has been challenged in federal court by Yes
on Term Limits, a group that
seeks to limit the terms of
statewide elected officials.
A federal judge upheld the
residency law regarding initiative petitions, but the case has
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465
Paul Jacob (from left), Susan Johnson and Rick Carpenter
are taken from an Oklahoma City courtroom in handcuffs
Tuesday after being named in an unsealed multicounty grand
jury indictment. Jacob, of Citizens in Charge; Johnson, of
National Voter Outreach; and Carpenter, of Oklahomans in
Action, led a failed initiative petition effort for a taxpayer bill