So who is Paul Jacob and why should we care? Ed Morrissey has a brief recap.
The case looks more and more strange the deeper one looks, I discovered. Jacob had worked in Oklahoma to gather signatures for a taxpayer bill of rights that would have capped state government spending, along with other national organizations such as National Voter Outreach. Oklahoma has a state law that requires that the gatherers of such signatures be Oklahoma residents, an odd requirement that seems very insular. Most states only require that the signatures represent actual registered voters in the state, and could care less about the gatherers themselves.
In Oklahoma, that certainly isn't the case. The indictment against Jacob and two others doesn't just charge him with a misdemeanor, but with felonies, including conspiracy. Conspiracy for what? To limit government spending?
Paul recently wrote a piece at Town Hall which explained some of the back story. After he and a few others went to Oklahoma to organize a petition drive, the government sued to have many of their signatures struck down because they had violated some residency requirement about petitioning and gathering signatures.
Yes, it was a terrible injustice. But it was trumped this past week by further injustice, the indictment charging Susan Johnson, Rick Carpenter and me with conspiracy to defraud the state of Oklahoma for allegedly "willfully" violating the state's residency statute. For this alleged crime Attorney General Drew Edmondson seeks to imprison us for up to ten years.
Susan says she can't even remember ever getting a speeding ticket. Rick and I have both admittedly sped before . . . but our occasional automotive misadventures did not quite prepare us for the current prosecution.
The story got even more twisted, though.
What we didn't know, and what we found out during our interview with Jacob, is that none of the circulators have been charged with a crime. Why? It seems that residency requirements are so nebulous as to be unprosecutable. People can register to vote in Oklahoma with no requirement to establish a lengthy residency first, and they can get drivers' licenses immediately.
In other words, the state of Oklahoma will prosecute Jacob for conspiring to commit supposed crimes for which they cannot and/or will not prosecute the actual alleged criminals. It's absurd, and Jacob's case needs much more visibility.
We still haven't heard the other side of the story from the District Attorney, but it's hard to imagine that there isn't some shady dealing going on with the state government in Oklahoma. It's good that some of our internet resources are looking into this, but I think CNN would be far better suited to the task. When will we see somebody covering this on Headline News?