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Thursday, November 23rd, 2017Last Update: Sunday, November 5th, 2017 11:44:31 PM

Principle With Policy: OCPAC Legislative Awards 2017

By: John Michener

“What good does it do … if someone claims to have faith but does not prove it with actions?… Show me your faith without any actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions… For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without actions is also dead.” (James 2:14-26 ISV).

Most of us readily recognize these words from the brother of Jesus. If only our politicians understood them. Elected officials and candidates for office eagerly trumpet their principles. “Faith! Family! Freedom!” they cry, but what policies do they propose? How do they vote? Show me your principle by your policy. For principle without corresponding policy is dead.

The best way to tell whether a legislator’s policy corresponds to his espoused principles is to look at the annual Oklahoma Conservative Index (Index). This is a comprehensive scorecard which rates our legislators’ implementation of the principles of good government. It is created by OCPAC and The Oklahoma Constitution newspaper.

On August 16, members of OCPAC debated and then voted on which legislators should receive special awards for their principled policy and leadership. These legislators will be formally recognized and presented with their awards at the annual OCPAC Awards Banquet on Friday, February 9, 2018. In most cases the runner-up will also receive an award. Here are the winners of OCPAC’s 2017 legislative awards:

Senate Legislator of the Year: Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow). Senator Dahm scored a perfect 100 on the Index. Beyond simply voting the principled way when given the opportunity, he authored and championed many of the bills on and off the Index which supported conservative values. As Majority Whip, he rallied the other conservatives to each cause and negotiated tirelessly with Senate leadership and less conservative senators to gain support for property rights, States’ rights, gun rights, and the right to life. This is our most prestigious award in the Senate.

The runner-up is Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate) who scored 90 on the Index. This year Senator Brecheen focused on protecting Oklahoma families and businesses from subversive groups that try to prevent Christians from practicing their religion and force them to violate their consciences by supporting transgenderism and homosexual behavior.

Senate RINO (Republican In Name Only) of the Year: Ervin Yen (R-OKC). For the second year in a row, Sen. Yen is our top RINO. We could not imagine that he would perform worse than his score of 10 last year, but he managed to score only 3 this year. Had he not missed the one vote, he would no doubt have scored zero on the Index. For comparison sake, the lowest Democratic score was 23.

Some RINOs are simply ignorant or gullible. They repeatedly vote the wrong way because they do not know any better and are easily persuaded to go along with liberal leadership. But Yen is neither of these. He is dangerous because of his big-government and collectivist beliefs and his willingness to implement them in policy. In 2017 he fought hard to force parents to vaccinate their children, he supported more regulation, more tampering with the free market, and he supported every big-government money-grab. Senator Yen is an enemy of liberty on every front, and he is arguably the worst senator in the history of Oklahoma politics, if we discount sex scandals and criminal activity. Fortunately, voters have a chance to hunt this RINO at the ballot box next year when Yen is up for unelection.

The runner-up is Sen. Dave Rader (R-Tulsa) with an Index score of 10. His liberal ideology is evidenced by his votes for higher taxes and fees, unconstitutional taxes, unconstitutional federal mandates, and nanny-state meddling in family affairs. Rader campaigned as a conservative Republican, which won him a narrow victory over the true conservative, Amanda Teegarden, by only 201 votes. Now that he has had a chance to govern, we see Rader’s true colors. He must be given the boot when he is next up for unelection.

House Legislator of the Year: Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie). Representative Murphey has now scored a perfect 100 on the Index eleven years in a row, making him the highest scoring legislator in the thirty-nine-year history of the Index. Rep. Murphey’s steadfast commitment to conservative principles in policy is the standard in the House. This year Rep. Murphey, along with nineteen other representatives, took a stand to shine the light of truth on a deceitful pro-life lobby. Passage of the House Resolution to Ban Abortion signals the end of disingenuous pro-life politicians who treat murder by abortion as healthcare.

The runner-up is Rep. Tommy Hardin (R-Madill) who also scored 100 this year. After six years of service in the House, Rep. Harden had a life time average Index score of 72. Often missing just two or three votes here or there, he was good, but not great. Then something happened in 2017, his seventh year. Extreme liberal leadership took over the House. Seeing comrades run in a dangerous direction can have one of two effects on a legislator: either a legislator will head for the cliff with the rest of the lemmings, or he will decide to be his own man and follow his principles. Rep. Hardin was no lemming. He said Enough! He focused his energy on examining the proposed policies and voting according to the constitution and his conservative ideals. Thank you, Tommy Hardin, for exhibiting such character under pressure.

House Freshman of the Year: Tom Gann (R-Inola). Sadly, nearly three dozen freshmen legislators, who were sent to the capitol to be game-changers, went along with liberal House leadership’s tax-and-spend schemes. The freshman class was large enough to have banded together and stood on principle, but instead they were successfully coopted by leadership. The median Index score of freshman Republicans was only 20. Rep. Tom Gann, however, was one freshman who did not swim in the current. Besides voting against the unconstitutional tax increases and new regulatory burdens, he also took the initiative to file conservative bills such as the Parental Rights Vaccine Act in an attempt to protect parents who have been under attack by the collectivist RINO Sen. Yen. Rep. Gann was also a coauthor of the Resolution to Ban Abortion. Thank you, Tom Gann, for your steadfastness under pressure, and your willingness to lead.

The runner-up is Rep. Rick West (R-Heavener) who was the only other House freshman who did not go along with the liberal leadership. He, too, stood up against the pressure and voted against the unconstitutional tax increases and new regulatory burdens. He was also a coauthor of the Resolution to Ban Abortion. Thank you, Rick West, for sticking to your guns in a wild-west atmosphere.

House RINO of the Year: Tess Teague (R-Choctaw). Rep. Teague did not cast a single conservative vote on the Index and scored a dismal 9. Clueless about how to judge proposals, she skipped voting time and time again. Rudderless, she voted with liberal leadership when she did vote. Unfortunately, Teague narrowly gained the support of OCPAC in her campaign. She is a prime example of some politicians’ amazing ability to sound solidly conservative on the campaign trail when they are actually clueless. We hope that this RINO of the Year award will inspire a liberty-lover in Choctaw to run against Teague in 2018. The award also serves as our public act of penance and official apology for having led some astray to vote for Rep. Teague.

The runner-up is another huckster, Rep. Scott McEachin (R-Tulsa), who scored only 10 on the Index. Again, we must humbly repent and apologize for leading some astray to vote for McEachin. He interviewed well, and we believed he would govern in accordance with his espoused principles. One member of OCPAC overheard him say, “I want to be remembered as a defender of the constitution.” Ironically, in his first session as a legislator, he was one of the representatives who figuratively shredded Oklahoma’s Constitution with his votes for unconstitutional taxes. Please vote against McEachin when he is up for unelection in 2018.

Wilberforce Champion of Life: Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks). William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a member of the British Parliament and is famous for his life-long campaign to abolish the slave trade. Year after year he introduced legislation to abolish slavery, even when he knew it was not popular and would not help his political career.

Representative Chuck Strohm took a strong and controversial stand this year when he authored House Resolution 1004, the Resolution to Ban Abortion. He knew that in so doing he would be putting many of his closet pro-choice colleagues under unwelcome scrutiny. In fact, House leadership took extraordinary measures to discourage the Resolution from being heard and eventually protected pro-life charlatans in the House by keeping the vote off-record.

The historic Resolution is a major strategy shift in the fight against abortion. For forty-four years, legislatures in every state have bowed to federal rulers and obeyed their iniquitous decrees (Is. 10). The passage of the Resolution to Ban Abortion signals a complete change of policy direction, away from four decades of pro-life complicity, compromise, and corruption toward the righteous approach demonstrated by Moses’s parents, who protected their baby because “they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23), and by the midwives who saved babies because they “feared God, and DID NOT DO as the king of Egypt commanded them” (Ex. 1:17).

Fast-talking politicians will no longer be able to easily get away with treating murder by abortion as healthcare while calling themselves pro-life. Even this year, typical pro-life bills that normally would have flown to the governor’s desk were exposed as worthless farces, unable to save the lives of innocent preborn children.

With the passing of the Resolution to Ban Abortion, the people of Oklahoma have said they want the Legislature to stop regulating murder; they want Oklahoma executives to abolish abortion now! Although killed by Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz (25 Index score), two true abolition bills were filed by Senators Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) and Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow). Such bills had never been filed before 2016.

We praise Rep. Strohm for changing the direction of the Oklahoma Legislature and for setting the tone for the 2018 Governor’s race by focusing attention on the fight to abolish abortion.

Lifetime Achievement: David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow). Rep. Brumbaugh passed away unexpectedly on April 15, 2017. Quoting from The Oklahoma Constitution newspaper:

“Oklahomans are mourning the passing of State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow), one of the great conservative champions in the Oklahoma Legislature, a devout Christian, and dedicated family man.

“Brumbaugh had a cumulative Oklahoma Conservative Index score of 93 percent, and had scored a perfect 100 percent rating for four years in a row. At the time of his passing, he was the chairman of the Republican House Caucus, and vice-chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on General Government.

“First elected in 2010 to represent parts of Broken Arrow and Tulsa in the Oklahoma House, Brumbaugh was more than just a vote in the Legislature. He was a conservative leader, a man of principle, and a person who had a much deeper understanding of the proper philosophy of free enterprise, limited government, and constitutionalism…

“It is not surprising that he won several awards for his conservative scores and leadership, including his receiving the Overall Conservative Award from Charlie Meadows, the founder and long-time president of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC). OCPAC also named Brumbaugh the conservative legislator of the year in 2016 in the House of Representatives. Very popular with the grass-roots activists, he was named a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.”

David Brumbaugh’s Lifetime Achievement award will be given posthumously to his wife, Shelley Brumbaugh, at the annual OCPAC Awards Banquet.

Charlie’s Overall Conservative: Every legislator who has completed at least two years of service and has a lifetime average of 90 or better on the Index receives the Charlie’s Overall Conservative award. This award recognizes the hard work it takes to be consistently conservative, and it is named in honor of OCPAC founder Charlie Meadows who always wears overalls.

Congratulations to Senators Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) and Anthony Sykes (R-Moore). Congratulations to Representatives Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) and Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks).

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