The Oklahoma Senate’s media office has issued a press release in which two legislators essentially mock a prosecutor’s decision to bring bribery charges against fellow lawmakers.
State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City) and state Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City), according to the release, claim they are worried that national radio show host Michael Savage could face bribery charges by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office because he has “offered” Newt Gingrich $1 million to drop out of the presidential race. Gingrich is on the ballot in Oklahoma’s primary election.
Is all this supposed to be funny?
The point of the release is that bribery charges faced by state Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Oklahoma City) and former state Sen. Debbe Leftwich are without merit. The charges allege Terrill helped arrange a state job for Leftwich in exchange for her not seeking reelection, according to media reports. Leftwich never got the job.
The tortuous comparison with Savage is comic, especially in the form of an official state press release.
In a typical conservative radio show stunt, the right-wing extremist Savage “offered” the money to Gingrich because he doesn’t think he can beat President Barack Obama in the general election. But the point here is that it’s just a media stunt. Obviously, Savage knows Gingrich won’t accept the money. Savage just wants high audience ratings.
Note this inane quote that apparently appeared on Savage’s web site:
In a presidential debate against Obama, regardless of how well he [Gingrich] does, on television he will come off badly compared to Obama and look like nothing more than what he is, a fat, old, white man.
But Shortey supposedly wants us and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater to take the “offer” seriously. According to the release, Shortey said:
In the Leftwich – Terrill case, Senator Leftwich never filed for office and there appears to be very little evidence to support the charges. Our concern is that no one knows what meets the District Attorney’s selective definition of bribery and his selective criteria for enforcing the law.
Savage’s offer appears to satisfy all of the requirements the case currently being tried by the District Attorney does not. If he doesn’t file charges against Savage, then why not?
As I noted, the comparison is tortuous. Savage is not a public official nor is he offering Gingrich a government job. The offer is not even real; it’s a publicity stunt and a political point.
So what’s the point with the “official” press release? Is this a good use of taxpayers’ money?
The district attorney’s office had information it had to act upon and thus Terrill, a Republican, and Leftwich, a Democrat, were charged. Was it just business as usual among some of Oklahoma’s politicians? Aren’t favors just part of the political process at any level? Some political observers may think so, but that doesn’t mean a prosecutor can just ignore presented information that may describe a criminal act.
A prosecutor is duty bound to consider that information and allow the information-not outside political forces or personal reasons-to dictate whether charges are warranted. Shortey and Reynolds, of course, leave out that key point in their feigned concern over a right-wing talk show host, and their own press-release stunt lowers the political discourse just as much as Savage does.