Rep. Mike Ritze is a physician and military veteran.
Dr. Mike Ritze says he feared for his safety at the Oklahoma Capitol, during the noon hour, on Wednesday. Ritze, who turns 70 this year, was invited by Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite, to attend a press briefing by constituents and Sen. Tom Coburn. As Ritze was walking alone on the 4th floor, he says Rep. Josh West, a freshman Republican started yelling at him for participating in the taxpayer advocacy group's meeting. As West (a tall former military vet) got even closer, he screamed; "YOU'RE STARTING A CIVIL WAR!". That outburst, and the encroaching movement caught the eye of a capitol public safety officer and he stepped up to the two house members. The presence of law enforcement evidently had a positive effect and West wisely recovered his senses & backed away. I was in the doorway of the very packed press briefing room during this time. Others heard the husky outbursts from a far distance but had no idea it was coming from a sworn state official. I did notice that Rep. Ritze was not anywhere to be seen. He evidently decided to watch the event from his own office and caught up with Dr. Coburn after the briefing.
When I heard of the outburst and other reports of an irate few associates of the House Speaker, I sought out Mike Ritze and met with him in his office. He recounted the highlights as I stated them. He also wondered if there was a PTSD issue affecting this dangerous behavior (Ritze was a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps). He said; "I get yelled at from time to time and I take it all in stride. It comes with the office." But Ritze did not expect a fellow Representative to be among the most rude individuals in the capitol. The Bullying continues..
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