ryan hill instagram pictureThe former state coordinator for the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign has been charged today with blackmail over an email he sent to Oklahoma State Senator Cliff Branan. This must have been some email, because it has resulted in a felony charge against him.

Moment of clarification: when I say “former state coordinator,” I mean that Al Gerhart was not accepted by the rest of the Ron Paul support community and eventually relieved of his post as coordinator. He is (a) founder of the Sooner Tea Party, which formed about the same time as the Oklahoma City Tea Party and was, at least originally, the controversial cousin to the OKC Tea Party. He is not considered by most Ron Paul supporters to be in the same camp.

So what was it, a death threat? Bomb threat? No, he threatened to make people laugh at Senator Branan if he did not advance a bill that would deal with combating UN Agenda 21 measures in the state.

This all broke as I was getting off work (my ‘day job’) Tuesday afternoon, so not all of the details were out. My first instinct was, “It doesn’t surprise me.” From what I’ve seen out of Mr. Gerhart in my political days here in Oklahoma, he may deserve all the negative attention that comes out of this. But has he really committed a crime?

There are anti-libel and anti-defamation laws that cover this kind of issue, but I’m not so sure, at least from what information is available about the email, that any libel has taken place, nor blackmail. At this point, Al Gerhart hasn’t done anything. He’s only said that he will, at some point in the future, if certain conditions aren’t met. So what is he being charged for, contemplating a crime?

Too Big To Fail?

Using the law to stifle someone’s speech is in violation of the principles of small government. As conservatives, we touted during the bailout years that no business was ‘too big to fail.’ It is our belief that the success or failure of a business is up to that business, and not the government. Government should only be there to protect companies from being unlawfully taken advantage of by others. Likewise, when someone’s speech (or in this case email) offends us or may even harm us, to be consistent, it isn’t the government’s job to stifle that speech, unless that speech is actually harming someone.

I’m thinking there’s a good chance Gerhart is going to have these charges dropped. It sounds like one of those times when your friend says to you, “Hey, you might have a legal challenge here!” Except in the case of Senators, your friend is probably a lawyer who can actually follow through on that idea. As far as I’m concerned, if Gerhart gets served on this charge, it may be an abuse of the system, but he sure asked for it. In a statement to KOCO regarding this, Gerhart stated, “You never publicize a blackmail threat because the second that you do, you lose your power over the victim.” He’s talking as if from experience or something.

Just last month at the Oklahoma County Republican Convention, Gerhart voted for ‘Mickey Mouse’ for county chair. I said to those in my precinct, “Why did he even come if he was just going to waste his vote?” Everything I’ve seen from him from the time I first heard his name has been shrouded in controversy. He may be a nice guy, and I’d like to meet him someday (even if I have to interview him in jail), but his tactics are doing nothing but landing him in trouble, and getting him lots of attention.