Paul Jacob, a close friend of the Republican Liberty Caucus who spoke at our 2006 national convention in Orlando, was indicted last Oct. 2 on felony charges of violating Oklahoma’s statute requiring petition circulators to be residents of the state. Today he is attending his preliminary hearing in Oklahoma City.
Jacob and his co-defendants — Susan Johnson, president of the petition management firm National Voter Outreach and Rick Carpenter, the proponent of the controversial 2006 initiative that would have set a cap on state government spending that could only be lifted by a vote of the people — pled not guilty.
He released a statement this morning on the case:
“Today, Attorney General Drew Edmondson continues his attack on the right to petition one’s government. We are innocent. We sought to understand and to fully comply with the letter of the law. Indeed, those running the petition drive were advised by state officials and followed that advice.
“Furthermore, the very statute being used to prosecute us is being challenged as unconstitutional. In recent months, statutes similar to Oklahoma’s have been struck down as unconstitutional by two federal circuit courts—the Sixth and Ninth Circuits—in unanimous decisions.”
“Make no mistake: We are here today facing 10 years in prison because we worked for an issue adamantly opposed by the rich and powerful in Oklahoma. The goal of this prosecution is to threaten us and scare Oklahomans away from the initiative process, which gives citizens their best opportunity for real reform.
“But we will not be bullied out of our rights as Americans. We will fight this vicious, politically-motivated assault, and we will prevail.”
Oklahoma’s attack on him is testament to his effectiveness as an activist and should send a chill down the spines of libertarian activists everywhere. For updates on the case, see www.freepauljacob.com.