The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), a far-right conservative group, has been thrust into the spotlight again due to its aggressive and dubious tactics. From public reprimands to actions that may allude to unethical behavior, OCPA’s desire for policy influence is rooted in controversy. Let us look at its tumultuous path thus far to understand better what this could mean for Oklahoma moving forward.
Background on Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Founded in 1993, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) has established itself as an authoritative figure within politics and policymaking across Oklahoma. Striving to create open government through research, education, and advocacy-based tactics, its mission statement is admirable but not without its critics, who have expressed grave concern over specific strategies employed by this far-right conservative think tank.
OCPA Files Complaint with Oklahoma Bar Association
Recently, OCPA faced significant backlash for attempting to use the Oklahoma Bar Association as a tool to silence political speech. The organization filed an ethics complaint against an attorney representing its opposition. The complaint was quickly deemed without merit and dismissed. This conduct has been condemned by legal community members decrying censorship attempts from any entity or individual.
Wife of Oklahoma Rep. Anthony Moore
In another incident, Rachel Moore, wife of Oklahoma Representative Anthony Moore, was granted two protective orders against OCPA staffers after they allegedly threatened her personally with physical harm if her husband didn’t support their policies. This incident sparked further public outcry regarding the unethical tactics used by OCPA to achieve its goals.
Wife of OCPA Leadership Involved in ClassWallet Dispute
More recently, Jennifer Carter, the wife of OCPA leader Ray Carter, who runs Oklahoma’s chapter of Betsy Devos’s school privatization group American Federation for Children, was accused of partaking in a dispute with Oklahoma’s ClassWallet.
This app is designed to make it easier for teachers to track school expenses. ClassWallet led to the loss of millions of dollars in Oklahoma taxpayer money as it was utilized to fund private school scholarships. While the investigation is ongoing, OCPA’s involvement in this dispute has led to further suspicion about their tactics and ethics.
Mrs. Carter has since denied wrongdoing and claims she acted within Oklahoma state law. Nevertheless, this episode adds to the string of questionable behavior stemming from OCPA and its close associates.
Resignation of Governor Frank Keating from the OCPA Board
The recent controversies surrounding OCPA are similar to what caused Oklahoma’s former governor, Frank Keating, to resign from OCPA’s Board of Directors. Keating was a longtime supporter of the OCPA, but he felt its increasingly controversial tactics had become untenable. His resignation further suggests Oklahoma’s citizens are fed up with the shady and unethical behavior exhibited by OCPA and its affiliates.
The Need for Regulation of Oklahoma Political Groups
Unethical practices by political groups in Oklahoma, such as the OCPA, have caused alarm and called for greater regulation of these organizations. Without stricter regulations to hold them accountable, their activities will continue unchecked. To ensure all Oklahomans live safely and transparently under a system of justice rather than outside influence or manipulation, it is imperative we remain alert, speak up against unethical tactics used by powerful interests like this one, and band together in collective action to protect our state’s integrity.
Image Credit: Photo by Hansjörg Keller on Unsplash