Tulsa's had some really inept and corrupt county election board secretaries. And the State Election Chief, Paul Ziriax, doesn't seem to be elevating the standards.
Gwen Freeman was just appointed to the post, due to the heavy lobbying of Senator Dan Newberry. The last county chief, Patty Bryant, got her job in a similar manner, when former Senator Jim Williamson intervened. Her team corrupted some really bad situations, leading to judicial intervention and many Tulsans going without representation for over a year. She was a real estate agent before getting the sweet gig. She leaves the job and her $90k salary at the end of the month.
Gwen Freeman did used to be a Tulsan. But she and her daughter have been living in Tennessee and Texas for the past decade or so.
She was a country singer, freelance interior designer, and radio talk show host. None of these positions appear to include overseeing hundreds of employees during county wide elections. None of this points to encouragement about public trust.
So with all the great candidates in the Tulsa area, Why does Senator Dan Newberry go find Gwen (a long time friend) in Texas and lobby for her to get the job? Why is she allowed to make up a 2nd resume after her first resume is rejected?
And why does Paul Ziriax let senators pick the last 2? Ziriax holds 2 posts in state government. He is the clerk of the senate as well as State Election Board Secretary. Maybe this is why senators have so much leverage? Perhaps the Election Board should do their own search for trusted, competent administration, rather than just ask senators during down time in the senate chamber?
Oklahoma has had many experiences with corrupted elections and those in charge of them. This just seems questionable.
Despite lack of experience, newly appointed election board secretary ‘a quick learner’
GwenFreeman’s resume touts her experience as a radio host, interior designer, marketing expert and country music singer. It doesn’t list any experience in politics. So how did she become Tulsa County’s newest election board secretary?
Other than a longtime interest in politics, Freeman said she knows she lacks experience and knowledge about her new role.
“But I’m a quick learner,” she told The Frontier on Friday. “State election board officials informed me I would be well trained, well equipped, and well backed. They said any questions that came up, they would have my back.”
Freeman is set to replace Patty Bryant on May 1 after Bryant informed the state election board she did not want to be reappointed when her current term ends. Election board secretaries serve two year terms and are nominated by the state senators of the country where they reside. The state election board then reviews the nomination and eventually chooses whether to make an official appointment.
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Election Board Secretary, Harmon Moore, Goes To Prison For Embezzlement
There were several claims of fraud and shiftiness for years. But none could be proven. Old timers still say that the 1984 mayoral race was wrought with corruption by the many broken machines that led to long lines at the polls, but only in the heavily Republican precincts!
Then, in 1987, The Tulsa World said;
Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Harmon Moore Jr. resigned amid allegations of embezzlement; he later was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for embezzling public funds.
Embezzlers: Also in Tulsa County, election board secretary Harmon Moore was sent to prison in 1987 for embezzling public funds. He was convicted of converting $16,713 in public funds to his own use.
Amazing when you consider that a senator like Rick Brinkley embezzled over $1.8 million and only got a 3 year sentence?
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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.
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.
Hall explained that, in many Oklahoma counties, the welfare rolls were divided up by precincts and kept on the tables in the polling places. If an individual on public assistance was so unwise as to vote for a Republican, his/her name would be removed from the welfare rolls the instant the voter completed the ballot. In some Oklahoma counties the election officials were so brazen as to keep a trash can next to the ballot box, and any ballot with a Republican vote on it went directly into the trash can. The only ballots in the ballot boxes were straight Democratic tickets.
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