Paul Jacob says “Thank You”
What a difference a year makes. As I sit down to my Thanksgiving Day feast, that’s what I’m thinking.
And I certainly know I have a whole lot to be thankful for.
Let me start by thanking you. For caring about freedom and justice. For your critical support for this Common Sense program and for the Citizens in Charge Foundation — the nation’s only organization with the express purpose of defending the initiative and referendum rights of Americans.
Last year at this time, I still faced Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s politically-motivated persecution. I’ll never forget seeing the fear in the face of my then 9-year old daughter as I left for a trip to Oklahoma. That certainly wasn’t the America we know and love.
This year, as we enjoy Thanksgiving and prepare for the Christmas season, Lillie is wondering which Nintendo DS game she might score from Santa — not about her father being imprisoned 1,000 miles away from home.
As you know, the charges — that had threatened me with ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine —were dismissed many months ago. We won. The court even ordered that the indictment itself be expunged from the record.
Yet, without the good work of so many people, from across the country and across the political spectrum, folks who helped me pay for my legal defense and who roared their disapproval online, on the airwaves, in print and in person to raise public awareness to the story of the Oklahoma-3, the ugly cloud of an indictment would likely still be hanging over our heads.
Oh, sure, we would have ultimately prevailed in court. We were innocent. But with Oklahoma’s Attorney General delaying at every turn, it might have taken several more years to ever get our day in court.
What made the difference? The AG had felt the sting of public attention. Oklahomans — and Americans everywhere — successfully focused their revulsion on him, and against his attack on us and on initiative rights.
Thank you for coming to the rescue. Thanks for helping protect my rights, as well as the rights of Oklahomans — and yours.
This year saw more than freedom and vindication for the Oklahoma-3. We gained a bigger victory, too: Dramatic reform for Oklahoma’s petition process. First, the state’s residency law was struck down in federal court as a violation of the First Amendment. Then, three important bills were passed through the state legislature to open up the nation’s toughest petition process.
For the first time in decades, a legislature enacted real reforms to enable citizens to use the initiative process, instead of passing restrictions designed to cripple its use.
How did it happen?
The prosecution of the Oklahoma 3 certainly galvanized a number of activists. But had there not been aggressive efforts to organize and mobilize supporters, the energy and urgency created by such an outrageous prosecution would have dissipated.
In November of last year, Citizens in Charge Foundation helped Oklahomans for Initiative Rights put on a Saturday forum in Oklahoma City to discuss Oklahoma’s initiative process and ways to reform it. Hoping to fill a meeting room for 35 to 40 people, over 100 people overflowed the room.
We then worked with two legislators, Sen. Randy Brogdon (now running for governor) and Rep. Randy Terrill, to help them propose legislation to (a) increase the time citizens have to gather petitions, (b) reform the process so that challenges to petition language come before and not after all the signatures are collected, and (c) lower the state’s onerous petition requirement.
A number of great Oklahomans and super organizations, most notably Oklahomans for Responsible Government and Oklahomans for Initiative Rights, came together to push these bills. They lobbied day after day in the capitol as well as launching a 70-city tour of the state to mobilize grassroots support.
Not surprising, hard work leads to success. But best of all, our Citizens in Charge campaign has spread far beyond Oklahoma — it’s all across the country.
We helped pass legislation in Virginia to protect petitioners from arbitrary judicial abuse, we worked to form broad-based coalitions in 14 states that in turn were able to stop a number of anti-initiative bills and, just weeks ago, I traveled throughout California to begin organizing groups there. Across the country, we face concerted attacks against the right of citizens to be heard.
The old saying is true: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Thank you for being a good person doing so much to help put citizens in charge. Where we get organized, when we stand up to fight, we citizens are able to battle back and win against entrenched special interests and power politics.
At Citizens in Charge Foundation, we’re re-doubling our national efforts to organize and mobilize grassroots Americans to protect initiative rights and insure that citizens are in charge. To continue to protect and defend the freedom for which we are so thankful today.
Your support — your contributions and your activism — made this year’s victories possible. On behalf of my family and myself, please accept my deepest appreciation. Have a great Thanksgiving.
President, Citizens in Charge Foundation
P.S. I can’t wait until next year. Let us at ’em! Citizens in Charge Foundation has an aggressive campaign to defend the initiative process across the country and to turn the tide on the politicians and special interests in 2010. They seek to block us from checking government power. But we shall block them — through ballot initiatives and referendums and recalls. With your continued support, we’ll take names and . . . put citizens back in charge.