All In a Day's Work: AP Twists Words, Paints OK. Candidate as Militia Nut

Last week, Oklahoma state senator Randy Brogdon (R), who is also a serious candidate for governor, inadvertently set off a national firestorm, courtesy of the Associated Press’s egregiously distorting his words.

An article by Sean Murphy and Tim Talley, about tea parties and militias (funny, how those two entities are conveniently linked together), implied that Sen. Brogdon, who was elected to office in 2002, is eager to help launch a kinder-and-gentler version of the Hutaree milita chapter. Or, something to that effect.

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The AP story noted that state miltia supporters have chatted up the Senator, and that he acknowledged (correctly), that the Second Amendment allows for a “citizen unit.” Now here’s the colorful quote that got tongues a-wagging and keyboards a-clicking:

The founding fathers ‘were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt. They really weren’t even talking about us having the ability to protect ourselves against each other,’ Brogdon said. ‘The second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government.’

Conveniently taken out of context, it appears that Sen. Brogdon supports using brute force against the federal government and that Thomas Jefferson and the boys were actually championing the right to insurrection.

Let’s start with the caricature that the AP is hawking.

Randy Brogdon is the antithesis of a crackpot or a grandstanding politician. I shared speaking duties with him at a political dinner, and he’s modest, cordial, and principled. His voting record is pro-small government, not anarchy. He received a grade of 100% on the Sooner State’s Conservative Vote Index. His personal life is a study in stability: he’s been married to the same lovely lady for 37 years, was a businessman for more than 30 years, and has even taught Sunday School.

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There are no skeletons, scandals, or secret handshakes in this guy’s closet.

After the sleazy AP story circulated, Senator Brogdon did the responsible thing — he set the record straight.

First, he noted that Oklahoma statutes allow for an “unorganized militia,” but that such an entity is prohibited from operating outside the state. Bottom line: You won’t catch a lawmaker who respects rule of law, like Randy Brogdon, indulging in any ‘storming the gates of Washington, D.C.’ talk, but you will catch him recognizing legitimate constitutional rights.

Second, he clarified what the Brogdon reform plan does entail:

I do plan to fight what I consider to be an over-reaching federal government, but I will do it with the Constitutional tools provided by the framers. For years, I have advocated adherence to the Tenth Amendment as a weapon against big government. As a legislator for much of the last decade I have routinely proposed new law. When enough of my Senate colleagues agree with me laws are changed or enacted, peacefully. Yet, this week, some people seem convinced that I would abandon the democratic process to wage actual war on the federal government, which is simply bizarre.

Third, as a result of the unwanted AP publicity, the Senator disclosed:

As this story developed over the week, I received as many as a half-dozen death threats, not only directed at me, but at my family as well. One unpleasant person said they would only be satisfied when I am swinging from a tree. Hopefully, the thought was fleeting.

In addition, “I was saddened that some in the anti-militia crowd can be as irrational and violent as those they condemn.”

Privately, friends are now suggesting that Sen. Brogdon record all future interviews with the media. Personally, I would tell him to never speak to the AP again. The media outlet, after all, bears responsibility for intentionally fanning the flames of discord.

As for reporters Murphy and Talley? Shame on them for trying to sully the reputation of a true patriot and a gentleman.

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