Saturday, February 17, 2018

Speaker McCarty's 1960s Bribery Machine

  A 1950s major scandal centered on the former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, J.D. McCarty.

 The speaker is normally a powerful figure, and McCarty was more so than usual because he happened to serve during the term of the state's first Republican governor, Henry Bellman, elected in 1962. McCarty, a skilled politician, emerged as a highly visible and dominant figure, leading Democrats against the Republican governor.

  Unfortunately for McCarty, he lost his reelection bid from his district in 1966, and the IRS descended upon him with tax evasion charges. His critics unkindly claimed that he failed to report his many bribes.

 In any event, he was convicted and sent to jail. Thus, in a few short years, leading state judges and the powerful former speaker had proven to be corrupt. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

1960s Voting Corruption In Oklahoma


by Paul R. Hollrah, reprinted from The New Media Journal - 
  In August 1963 I was transferred to Tulsa from Wall Street, in New York, in a corporate headquarters relocation. A month later, on Tuesday evening, September 10, 1963, I attended my first political meeting… the monthly meeting of the Tulsa County Young Republicans. 
  The guest speaker that evening was Tulsa attorney Walter Hall, Ballot Security Officer for the Oklahoma Republican State Committee. In his speech Hall described in detail the widespread fraud practiced by Oklahoma Democrats in every election. And since Democrats controlled all county and state election boards, the governor’s office, both houses of the legislature, the major law enforcement offices, and the courts, few Republicans were willing to challenge them. 
Walter Hall
 
Hall began by explaining that forty-four of Oklahoma’s seventy-seven counties had not provided a secret ballot for voters since statehood in 1907, and that local Democrats regularly used every conceivable illegal device to intimidate voters and to fraudulently control the outcome of elections.
  Although state law required that one of the three election officials in each precinct must be a member of the minority party, Democrats systematically recruited loyal party members to register as Republicans so that they could fill the minority positions.
  He described how, on election day, after voters had signed the entry log, they were handed a paper ballot and a pencil. And since there were no facilities for marking a ballot in secret, they were obliged to place their ballots on the table and mark them with the three election officials looking on. If the election officials saw a voter mark his/her ballot for even a single Republican candidate, a number of things could happen… none of them good.

Read more, here..

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Liquor And Corruption



  Unless you're a 3rd generation Oklahoman, you probably don't know that prohibition didn't end in the mid 30s, in Oklahoma.

  The demise of Prohibition deserves more than passing mention. Oklahoma was one of the last states to allow strong drink. By the time of repeal in 1959, open saloons serving whatever customers wanted flourished in urban centers, and bootleggers provided fast arid efficient home service for those in dire need.

  No more prohibition.

 A make believe liquor casket containing 'Old Man Prohibition' is hauled jubilantly through the streets with a police escort here, April 7th. The occasion was an election victory that ended 51 years of prohibition in the state.
 The widespread flouting of the law in itself became one of the strong arguments in favor of repeal.
   By this time the state had voted on the liquor issue six times. Finally, on the seventh time, repeal carried the day and thereby reduced a significant source of corruption.
Governor Edmondson won on Prohibition.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Alfalfa Bill Murray & His 34 Declarations Of Martial Law

Books can be written about Alfalfa Bill Murray. But with his populism there was also a bravado which got him into trouble.

Harry Holloway, of the Oklahoma Historical Society said;

  After the two failed governorships of Walton & Johnson, the next governor, elected in 1930 at the onset of the Great Depression, was William H. Murray, better known as "Alfalfa Bill." A couple decades earlier, Murray had chaired Oklahoma's constitutional convention, leading to statehood. He acquired a national reputation of sorts partly because of his oddball behavior. Like Jack Walton he was a great showman. He presented himself as one with the common farmers in language and in dress. He dressed in rumpled clothing, including the trademark long johns that extended conspicuously below his pant legs. His language could be crude, even obscene. That he was mostly an opportunist interested in electoral gain is suggested by his background. He had worked as a teacher and reporter, had read law, and had gained recognition as expert in tribal land claims. The woman he married was related to a tribal chief. These are high-status traits, not those of an unlettered, rumpled farmer.

  In office he did champion ordinary farmers and others in distress. Nevertheless, his own state programs did not get far, partly because of the Great Depression and partly because of his irascible personality. He clashed with Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, feeling that FDR had ridiculed him. Federal officials bypassed Murray and thus cut him out of much patronage. Murray became enraged and consumed by vindictiveness in his opposition to FDR and the New Deal, an attitude that stayed with him after he left office. To the end of his days he railed against the New Deal, communists, and "International Jewry." Worst of all was his willingness to invoke martial law, which he did a total of thirty-four times.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Oklahoma's Psychic Governor, Henry Johnson

  Psychics have always had their opponents and their adherents. One fan of such things was a former governor in the 1920s

Harry Holloway, of the Oklahoma Historical Society said;

  After Walton was thrown out in his first year, through impeachment, the next freely elected governor in 1926 was Henry S. Johnston, who suffered a fate similar to Walton's, although not because of criminal misconduct. He spent much time in his office reportedly engaged in solitary meditation and consultation with his personal astrologer. His administrative assistant had a room full of caged canaries with whom he claimed to communicate. The governor's personal secretary ran a tight ship that effectively cut off legislators wanting to discuss vital patronage matters. Legislators became furious and, in keeping with these turbulent times, ousted Johnston from office in January 1929. Thus by this early date the young state had removed two sitting governors from office, a record not matched by any other state until much later.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Jack Walton's Brief Governorship & Impeachment

Some say this man should have been in the entertainment business, or perhaps an evangelist? But his antics led to his quick exit from state high office.

 Harry Holloway, of the Oklahoma Historical Society said;
  The period of the 1920s and 1930s was one of bitter political strife. Martial law was invoked repeatedly, and two sitting governors were removed from office. Jack Walton was the first to be removed. Elected in 1920, he ran a spectacular campaign heavy in showmanship. But in office he was a disaster. He publicly fought the Klan yet unofficially colluded with them. He wildly extended patronage powers to appoint college presidents and professors, arousing intense opposition. He invoked martial law and at one point had the whole state under martial law. Inaugurated on January 9, 1923, he was impeached and was removed from office in the same year on November 23.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Guthrie & OKC Play 'Capture the Flag'

  The story was that Oklahoma's first post-territorial governor stole the state seal in the dead of night, drove from Guthrie to Oklahoma City, stashed the seal under his hotel bed and collapsed from exhaustion.
  The temporary Capitol was in Guthrie, OK. But the plan for a permanent Capitol Building brought with it a fight between the republicans in the West, and the Democrats in the East. they originally sought to create 2 states (Oklahoma & Sequoyah), but Roosevelt didn't want another Democrat state(Sequoyah), so he supported a 1-state solution and hoped the Western republicans would prevail.

The New Jerusalem 

   William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray proposed buying a township for the capital. He proposed selling lots around the capitol building and said the chosen place should have "good drainage and a picturesque grandeur. " This and similar plans became known as the "new Jerusalem" approach to the capital - creating an entirely new city on the prairie with construction of the Capitol funded by the platting and selling of lots.


  On Nov. 3, 1908, an election was held on a state question calling for the acquisition of a capital site and the selling of lots to finance construction of the Capitol. Although more voters than not approved the measure, it did not pass by the necessary majority.

  Oklahoma City sent out trainloads of boosters to canvass the state on June 5. The following Saturday, 160,000 voters - all of them male - went to the polls. Oklahoma City won handily. Guthrie was second and Shawnee a distant third.

Capture The Flag

  Legends surround the removal of the seal in 1910, and the truth - not nearly as colorful - has been washed by the passage of time.  So nobody really knows exactly how Oklahoma City became the state capital a bit earlier, shall we say, than expected.  Dirty laundry is how one source says it happened. Dirty tricks is how Guthrie partisans saw it.

Stolen Seal Finds Home

  The trip north had actually taken longer because of a flat tire at Seward. Back in Oklahoma City by 7 a.m., Anthony met Gov. Haskell, who arrived that Sunday morning by train from his home in Muskogee.