Sometime Sunday afternoon, former conservative State Representative Tim Pope passed away of a heart attack. Tim was 52 years old and had been married to his wonderful wife LaDonna for many years. They have 3 daughters, all adults with some grandchildren.
I probably first met Tim around 1988 as he was running for House District 98 which encompassed Mustang, parts of Yukon and a little area South of the South Canadian River. He was the first Republican ever elected to that seat. Tim served from 1989 through 2002 before deciding to run for State Labor Commissioner in 2002. He had a lifetime conservative rating of 87 on the Oklahoma Constitution Newspaper’s Conservative Index, an impressive accomplishment for anyone in office that many years. There have probably not been more than a dozen lawmakers score that high over the past 30 years.
Tim was an aggressive conservative lawmaker who was always willing to speak his mind. Several years ago he took the moral high ground when it came to exposing the homosexual agenda, which resulted in him being a target of the hateful homosexuals long before State Representative Sally Kern was elected to office. Anyone that is outspoken and aggressive like Tim will have both detractors as well as those of us who liked him and respected him for his courage and willingness to mix it up, rather than play life cautiously, hiding behind the issues of the day.
Tim once ran in a special election for Congress, an election which was ultimately won by current Congressman Frank Lucas. With the election of George W. Bush and his taking office in 2001, everyone thought that then Governor Frank Keating would wind up with an appointment to the Bush administration and that then Lt. Governor Mary Fallin would assume the responsibilities of Governor and make it very difficult for anyone the defeat her in the next election cycle. Insiders suggest then Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau made a decision to run for Lt.
Governor and Tim decided to run for Labor Commissioner rather than seek re-election to the legislature.
When Governor Keating failed to receive an appointment to the Bush administration, that backed every thing up and caused a deep rift between Reneau and Tim, formerly close friends who were now both running for Labor Commissioner. Tim believed he wasn’t receiving fair treatment from Pat McGuigan, head of the editorial board at the Oklahoman. Therefore Tim complained to Eddie Gaylord, suggesting that McGuigan had crossed an acceptable line. I believe the complaint resulted in McGuigan no longer working at the Oklahoman.
Following his years of service in the legislature, Tim did political consulting work and coached several of his clients to victory, many times against the more well financed establishment candidates in Republican primaries as well as victories against Democrats. He was hard hitting and was well equipped for the rough and tumble world of politics, a competition which is both a science as well as an art.
In an effort to inform citizens of Jim Roth’s county commissioner district, Tim sent out a robotic phone call suggesting Roth was using his position to advance the homosexual agenda. The robo call stated a couple of facts then asked citizens to call one of two phone numbers if they agreed or disagreed with Commissioner Roth’s agenda. That phone call ended up by having Attorney General Drew Edmondson file a legal action against Tim seeking what I believe was a $10,000,000 judgment against Tim.
The complaint was not that Tim misrepresented any facts, but that he violated the no call laws by not including his phone number in the script. That suit finally ended up in some level of state court where the Edmondson machine was willing to settle for what I believe was a $5,000 fine. Tim, still believing he had done nothing wrong appealed in federal court to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver where the case was thrown out. The Court declared the law that was supposedly broken was to apply to commercial calls and not political calls which, by the way, is the purest meaning of the First Amendment’s free speech provision.
Tim was elected to serve as President of the Oklahoma Republican Assembly (OKRA) a state affiliate of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. It was during his tenure as President that he formed a PAC which decided to help Brent Rinehart win the election against then County Commissioner Cornet, a rather liberal Republican.
Rinehart won the primary and went on to win in the general election against the Democrat. If I remember correctly, Tim was accused by AG Edmondson of violating campaign finance laws by taking money from three contributors for the PAC which was then used to help elect Rinehart.
The problem was that each of those 3 contributors had already given the maximum of $5,000 to Rinehart’s campaign. I had always believed if Tim did not know they had given the full amount or if he did not promise them it would be used for the Rinehart race when he was soliciting the contributions, there would have been no violation of the law. The legal wrangling went on for several years and Tim finally pleaded guilty, agreeing to pay a small fine. The real damage was the near $200,000 in legal expenses which caused Tim to have to declare bankruptcy.
I personally believe Tim never intended to break any law. I believe he was so aggressive that it was more likely that he may have gotten careless in his efforts to work for one of his clients or perhaps it was a friend. I have never seen the evidence in the case so I have no opinion on the validity of the case.
With that conviction it made Tim somewhat radio active as far as consulting for candidates knowing any opponent would use that against a candidate who would hire Tim. The sad thing is that AG Edmondson was successful in taking out, at least temporarily, one of the best conservative consultants in the state. I visited with Tim for a while on Monday, the first of February while down at the Capitol and he expressed his desire to get some time between his fight with Edmondson and when he could use his skills again to help elect conservatives to office.
There were a couple of times I didn’t want to see one of his candidates elected to office and it would always cause a little friction between Tim and me, as he was always loyal and working hard for his client. But Tim was not one to hold a grudge and we would soon find ourselves working together on an issue or on behalf of some other good candidate.
While Tim was not currently a member of OCPAC he has been a member during several past years. I considered Tim one of the good guys, a friend and am really going to miss him. I believe the funeral will be on Monday, February 22nd. Oklahoma has lost one of its better citizens. Please keep LaDonna and the other members of the family in your prayers.
++ ACTION ITEM
Monday morning HB 2943 by State Representative Sally Kern is scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. in one of the 4th floor conference rooms by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety & Judiciary. The committee is Chaired by State Representative Randy Terrill. This is another very important piece of legislation designed to allow for a religious exemption from having a bio-metric picture and data base linking associated with our drivers licenses. The legislation still requires a photo, but it would be a low resolution photo, much like a Polaroid photo. At issue is this continued move toward a surveillance society with BIG BROTHER (government) being able to track and know as well as share your personal information about law abiding citizens to an international audience.
This law would allow Christians with deeply held beliefs about not becoming a part of a system that no man can function, buy or sell without being enrolled in such a big brother system to opt out. This is a very serious issue to many alert Christians, especially given the understanding that in the House version of health care reform in Washington, there was a provision found on pages 1000 through 1007 for a requirement that every citizen in America would be required to have a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip implanted in them within
3 years of passage of the health care reform legislation.
Representative Kern’s legislation would help prevent big brother from violating privacy rights for law abiding citizens.
One of the superficial objections to the legislation would be the increased costs to the state to implement the law as it would require tag agents to acquire additional cameras for those with religious exemptions. However, this objection is easily overcome as anyone WANTING to use the religious exemption would have an additional fee for their drivers licenses to cover any additional costs to the state.
This legislation is just one more 10th Amendment-privacy-liberty issues which flies in the face of an ever growing federal government.
If you can attend the meeting please do so. Following are the names of the members of the committee, please call their offices early on Monday morning and ask them to support HB 2943. The House switchboard number is (405) 521-2711. Just give the receptionist the name of the lawmaker and you will be put through to that office.
Randy Terrill, Chairman (R-Moore)
Mark McCullough, Vice Chair (R-Sapulpa)
Mike Christian (R-South Central OKC)
Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs)
Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher)
Fred Jordan (R-Tulsa)
Daniel Sullivan (R-Tulsa)
Jason Nelson (R-Central Northwest OKC)
Scott Inman (D-Del City)
Ryan Kiesel (D-Seminole)
Richard Morrissette (D-South OKC)
Paul Roan (D-Tishomingo)
Glen Bud Smithson (D-Sallisaw)
Please call asap as this is very important legislation that needs to keep going forward. Your calls last week really made a difference in the health care freedom of choice act which passed out of committee.
Thanks for your time and attention.