Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Impeachment and Imprisonment Of 3 Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices

Fifty years ago, Oklahomans were humiliated by revelations that three state Supreme Court justices had accepted bribes. Former Justices N.S. Corn, Earl Welch and N.B. Johnson served jail time for their criminal actions.

Judicial Scandal

  In 1965, scandal burst forth in an unusual setting, the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Three judges were implicated in taking payoffs to decide cases before the court. These three judges were either convicted in court or impeached. IRS inquiries laid much of the groundwork.


One of the guilty judges, N.S. Corn, became contrite and publicly described his misbehavior. He admitted that over about 20 years of taking payoff, he could not recall one single year in which he had not taken a payoff. Professor Phillip M. Simpson of Cameron University has researched one spectacular payoff case in which "Corn . swore that he had received $150,000 in $100 bills ... in a downtown Oklahoma City

meeting .... The attorney who had established the pattern with Corn was O.A. Cargill, former Oklahoma City mayor and Corn's friend for 50 years." This corruption obviously reached into the highest levels and included citizens usually deemed quite respectable.

Corn, Welch and Johnson had been elected, and re-elected, to their high positions by the people. The shame cast on our state by their misconduct was the fuel for a judicial reform movement led

The Sneed Plan, calling for the appointment, not election, of our appellate judges, passed as a constitutional amendment in 1967. Missing from the Sneed Plan were district court judges who remain elected officials to this day.

The Sneed Plan established the Judicial Nominating Commission, composed of 15 members. It has six lawyers, elected by the lawyers, six laypersons appointed by the governor, plus three more laypersons, one selected by the members of the commission, one selected by the House speaker and one selected by the president pro tem of the Senate.
Read more, here..

Thursday, August 17, 2017

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. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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..

Monday, August 7, 2017

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.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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.