Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs (OCPA) Interim Reports

Bias Reporting

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As state government policy unfolds in Oklahoma City, the state’s most controversial think tank is sticking to right-wing conservative values. Members of the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs (OCPA) are not silent about their intentions, even after receiving criticism over social media tactics.

The OCPA is no stranger to controversy within its right-wing bubble. Former OCPA board member Governor Keating resigned in September 2020, citing the group’s turn to the right and making his voice “irrelevant” in guiding OCPA’s path. In reality, the gap between the former Oklahoma governor and the state’s Republican Party leadership is larger than initially reported.

OCPA questionable ethics

Oklahoma state politics can get messy, with plenty of name-calling on both sides. However, recent actions by OCPA board members call into question its mission and ethical responsibility to serve all Oklahomans. The truth is that Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma City continue to push a conservative plank that might be too difficult to cross in years to come.

The OCPA recently filed a complaint with the Oklahoma Bar Association to try to silence their political opposition. The resulting backlash highlighted the OCPA’s tactics as an unfair censorship of free political speech.

Last June, Rachel Moore, wife of state representative Anthony Moore, was issued life-long protective orders against four OCPA board members. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) investigated allegations of threatening text messages directed at Moore.

OSBI discovered that the texts came from anonymous numbers of OCPA board members. They tried to influence the vote on key state legislation that solidified right-wing opposition to the compromise. The text messages amounted to threats against her husband if Rep. Moore did not vote in accordance with OCPA policies.

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OCPA bias

Jennifer Carter, the wife of OCPA leader Ray Carter, lashed out at critics for their comments on education funding distribution. While the investigation is ongoing, the dispute raises questions about how influential the OCPA is with regard to education policy, namely the appointment of an Education Secretary under investigation for embezzlement.

Critics question the connection between the right-wing agenda and the funding of private schools. The controversy stems from OCPA’s use of a Florida technology company and misappropriation of $8 million. The OCPA insists it doesn’t need to disclose funding sources, but the ambiguity about how taxpayer money is spent should worry everyone, particularly when its board members run smear campaigns.

Ethical conduct must be transparent

Political think tanks like the Oklahoma Public Affairs Council have substantial power within their own political bubble. But as a former board member and leader, Governor Keating, alluded to, that power does not go beyond the right-wing agenda of a handful of legislators. Unfortunately, some OCPA leaders use questionable tactics for debate and rebuttal on social media platforms. All Oklahomans need a way to hold unelected legislators accountable for their actions.

Without truth in the ethical conduct law, the OCPA and similar organizations will continue to promote policies in an unethical manner. However, passing regulations that force groups like OCPA to disclose how they use government appropriations ensures that the rights of some do not trump the rights of all.

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Categories: Technology
Source: vtt.edu.vn

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