Drew Edmondson

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Drew Edmondson
Drew Edmondson.jpg
Oklahoma Attorney General
Former officeholder
In office
1994 - 2010
PartyDemocratic
Education
Bachelor'sNortheastern State University
Master'sUniversity of Tulsa Law School
William Andrew "Drew" Edmondson (born October 12, 1946, in Washington, D.C.) is a former Democratic Attorney General of Oklahoma. He is the son of Ed Edmondson, a former United States Congressman, and the brother of James E. Edmondson, a Justice on the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Edmonson announced on June 10, 2009, that he would be campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the 2010 gubernatorial election in Oklahoma.[1] Despite holding comfortable leads in the polls leading up to the primary election, Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins narrowly defeated him on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 by a margin of less than one percent.[2]

Education

  • Graduated from Muskogee Central High School (1964)
  • Bachelor's degree, Northeastern State University (1968) in speech education
  • Juris Doctorate degree, University of Tulsa Law School (1978)

Professional experience

Edmondson served in the United States Navy from 1968 to 1972, including a year tour of active duty in Vietnam. Before entering law school, he was elected to a single two-year term in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives. Upon receiving his law degree, he worked as an intern for the Muskogee County District Attorney's Office and became an Assistant District Attorney there in 1979. That same year he joined the private practice law firm of Edmondson Law Offices with his brother, remaining there until 1982.

Political career

In 1982, Edmondson was elected as Muskogee County District Attorney, being subsequently re-elected to the position unopposed in both 1986 and 1990. He resigned in 1992, half-way through his third term in office, and re-entered the private sector. Two years later, Edmondson was elected as Oklahoma's sixteenth Attorney General. During his first term, he joined other state attorneys general in filing suit against the tobacco industry, advocated for reform of the death penalty appeals process, and created a victim assistance unit. In 1998, he became only the second Attorney General in the state's history to win re-election unopposed. Notable cases investigated during his tenure as Attorney General have included the August, 2003 indictment of WorldCom and its former CEO Bernard Ebbers on charges of violating state securities laws although the charges were later dropped following Ebbers's federal sentencing. Furthermore, he conducted a corruption investigation against now-former State Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher, which resulted in Fisher's impeachment, resignation, and indictment on charges including embezzlement, tax evasion, perjury, and bribery.

Keating v. Edmondson (2001)

In 1986, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Executive Branch Reform Act, which allowed the Governor, within forty-five days of assuming office, to organize the various State agencies, boards, and commissions into Cabinet Departments, numbering between ten and fifteen, with each headed by a Cabinet Secretary. The state legislative measure also allowed the Governor to create whatever Cabinet Department he desires and assign such State agencies to that Cabinet Department as he sees fit. The Governor's Cabinet would remain in effect until the State Legislature superseded the governor's organization. On May 26, 2000, Governor Frank Keating issued Executive Order No. 2000-11, which abolished the Cabinet Department of Commerce and created the Cabinet Department of Economic Development and Special Affairs after his nomination of Russell Perry as Secretary of Commerce was rejected by the Oklahoma Legislature after they adjourned without considering it. That same day, he appointed Perry as secretary of the newly created cabinet department.

Several days later, when State Senator Angela Monson requested a legal opinion on the Governor's actions, Edmondson stated that Keating, according to the language of the Executive Branch Reform Act, did not have the power after the forty-five day limit to modify the executive Cabinet. On October 27, Governor Keating filed a petition requesting a declaration of relief and stay of effectiveness of the opinion. After a trial judge declared Edmondson's opinion to be right with the law, Keating contested a single issue, whether he was empowered to reorganize the executive Cabinet throughout the term of office.

The unanimous decision of the Oklahoma State Supreme Court, delivered on December 4, 2001, was that the Governor did not possess any inherent power to reorganize the Cabinet; that was a power entrusted solely with the State Legislature.[3]

Controversies

Boy Scouts

Edmondson filed an amici curiae brief in support of a New Jersey case that sought to force the Boy Scouts to accept homosexual scout leaders. The suit, filed by James Dale and the ACLU in 2000, demanded Dale be reinstated as a Scoutmaster after he had been dismissed by the leadership of the private non-profit organization once his sexual orientation became known to them. The opinion of the New Jersey State Supreme Court was that the Boy Scouts had violated the State's public accommodations law by revoking Dale's membership based on his sexuality. The five-to-four decision of the United States Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale (2000), however, overturned this ruling based on the legal holding that under the First Amendment a private organization such as the Boy Scouts has a right to freedom of association and therefore can exclude certain individuals from membership under certain criteria, regardless of state anti-discrimination laws.[4]

Drew Edmondson and his wife, Linda

Campaign finance

  • In 2004, Edmondson's campaign received a $1,000 political contribution from former-Oklahoma state senator and convicted felon Gene Stipe.[5] At the time of the donation, the Democratic politician had served five years probation and six months home detention for his role in the funneling of illegal contributions to a failed 1998 congressional campaign. Soon thereafter he was indicted by a federal grand jury, along with his brother, on charges of mail fraud, witness tampering, money laundering and conspiracy, relating to their role in a real estate deal involving a pet food company owned by Gene Stipe's former business partner, Steve Phipps. Edmondson initially refused to return the contribution on the basis that "his office [was not] investigating Stipe and [that] he intend[ed] to keep the contribution unless or until Stipe" was investigated by the state.[6] In April 2007, however, he reversed himself when the FBI became involved and delve into his connections with Stipe.
  • On May 9, 2005, Edmondson for Attorney General, the candidate committee for Oklahoma's top law enforcer, donated $500 to the re-election campaign of State Auditor Jeff McMahan.[7] Under state law, "it is illegal for a campaign committee to contribute to another candidate."[8] Nearly nine months after this story was published, McMahan, along with his wife, Lori, were charged with accepting improper cash and gifts from an Oklahoma businessman; they were later convicted on one count of conspiracy and two counts in violation of The Travel Act, which prohibits interstate travel in support of racketeering.

CEI rating

In an analysis of state attorneys general published in July 2010, Edmondson was named "The Nation's Second Worst Attorney General" by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Basing their criteria on dubious dealings, fabricating law, usurping legislative power, and predatory practices, the Oklahoma Attorney General, who at the time of the publication was a gubernatorial candidate, received a letter grade of F in all four categories. CEI sharply criticized Edmondson's prosecution of the Oklahoma 3, adding that his tenure as state attorney general "has been marked by a pattern of political bullying and hypocrisy."[9]

Oklahoma 3

See also: Oklahoma 3

One of the more famous and controversial cases that occurred during Edmondson's tenure as State Attorney General came early on in his third term. On October 2, 2007, Edmondson indicted national term limits leader Paul Jacob, Susan Elizabeth Johnson (a Michigan resident and president of the National Voter Outreach organization), and Richard Merrill Carpenter (head of the Oklahomans in Action) on felony charges of conspiracy to defraud the state. Between 2005 and 2006, Jacob had been working in conjunction with Carpenter and his organization in an effort to place the Stop Overspending Initiative, a measure with language similar to that of Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), on the ballot in time for the 2006 election. Edmondson claimed to have based his decision to prosecute the Oklahoma 3, as they had been called, based on the state's residency law that required that petition circulators legally reside in a particular political jurisdiction if the signatures they collect are to be considered valid. Though some of the paid petitioners had come from other states to work on the drive, Jacob argued that Oklahoma Secretary of State Susan Savage had given her approval on the matter.[10] Each one of the Oklahoma 3 face up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

The case drew national attention with many critics accusing Edmondson of playing politics with his office. Shortly after Jacob pled not guilty to the charges, a website called Free Paul Jacob was established in his defense. 2008 independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader during the Third Party Presidential Debate on C-SPAN referred to the residency requirement laws as 'Jim Crow laws', adding that what happened to Paul Jacob "we’ve seen this before against African Americans."[11] A November 19 editorial in the Wall Street Journal compared the prosecution to what one might expect from the Pakistan government.[12] Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, questioned whether the communist nation state of North Korea had annexed Oklahoma.[13]

Critics within the state were vocal in their objections as well. An editorial that appeared in The Muskogee Phoenix, an Oklahoma paper, in January 2008 viewed the prosecution of the Oklahoma 3 as "a blow to the democratic rights of Oklahoma citizens," which would only serve to "frighten and intimidate voters from exercising their constitutional rights to participate in the initiative process" in the future.[14] The Oklahoma Gamefowl Breeders Association, noting the double-standard in Edmondson's decision, stated that "when opposing the referendum on cockfighting, we found that many individuals came in from outside Oklahoma to become residents, in order to gather signatures for the petition to ban cockfighting," but not a single person had been arrested or indicted.[15]

On January 22, 2009, after the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the residency requirement in Oklahoma is unconstitutional, Edmondson announced that he was dropping his charges against Jacob, Susan Johnson and Rick Carpenter for allegedly violating the unconstitutional law, saying that the 1969 law under which he was prosecuting them was "no longer enforceable."[16]

Poultry farmers

In November 2007, Edmondson sued thirteen large-scale poultry companies claiming that they polluted the Illinois River Watershed when they allowed bird waste from their facilities and farms to flow into the watershed. The Democratic Attorney General requested an injunction to prevent farmers from using poultry manure as fertilizer on land inside watershed of northeast Oklahoma rivers. A spokesperson for the poultry commission accused Edmondson of grandstanding: "It is unfortunate that the state’s top law enforcement official has resorted to scare tactics and exaggerations in his latest legal maneuver against poultry producers." river’s watershed.[17]

The Oklahoma Attorney General has been chastised for basing his prosecution on bad science. The Associated Press noted that "the microbiologist's method for linking poultry producers to the water contamination has been rejected for publication twice by a peer-reviewed scientific journal," Applied and Environmental Microbiology, on the basis that it lacked necessary controls and the appropriate statistical analyses to support the conclusions.[18]

Despite "three years of litigation and reportedly spending $25 million on experts,"[19] the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit "ruled [in May 2009 that] a federal judge was within his discretion in denying an injunction"[20] the year before. Lack of evidence on the part of the Oklahoma Attorney General's office was the reason cited for the ruling handed down. Edmonson has argued that the state does not have prove that the chicken waste directly caused a contamination, only that they 'may' have done so.

Political Issues

Healthcare reform

See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

In the wake of the historic passage of President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation on Christmas Eve in 2009, Edmondson joined fourteen Republican Attorneys General in questioning not only the constitutionality of a specific controversial provision within the Senate version of the bill, but also exploring potential legal challenges to the measure as well.[21] The stipulation in question was the back room deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to recruit him as the 60th vote needed to pass the measure, an arrangement "dubbed the "Nebraska Compromise" or the "Cornhusker Kickback" by Republican critics." The agreement gives Nebraska exemption from its share of the Medicaid expansion, "a carve out that is expected to cost the federal government $100 million over 10 years."[22]

Despite this initial involvement, Edmondson changed his tune four months later while in the midst of his gubernatorial campaign. Three months after President Obama signed into law his controversial health care reform bill, the one that narrowly passed the United States House of Representatives just two days prior to this, "Edmondson says he decided not to challenge the law after members of his staff spent hundreds of hours examining the 2,500-page bill."[23] He insisted that politics had no affect on his decision.

Other roles

  • Member, Oklahoma District Attorneys Council (1983-1992, 1995-present)
  • President, Oklahoma District Attorneys Association (1985)
  • Member, League of Women Voters (1985-present)
  • Member, Citizens League of Central Oklahoma (1995-present)
  • Member, Rotary Club (1998-present)
  • President, National Association of Attorneys General (2002-2003)
  • Member, Oklahoma Bar Association

Elections

2010

See also: Oklahoma gubernatorial election, 2010

Edmondson announced on June 10, 2009, that he would be campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the 2010 gubernatorial election in Oklahoma[1], challenging State Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins in the July 27, 2010 primary contest. A survey conducted by Sooner Poll, a public opinion pollster based out of Oklahoma, found that as of early-January 2010, Edmondson held a ten-point lead on the Democratic ticket, but that overall he was twelve points back from leading Republican challenger, Congresswoman Mary Fallin.[24]

2010 Race for Governor - Democratic Primary[2]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Jari Askins (D) 50.3%
Drew Edmondson (D) 49.7%
Total votes 263,649

2006

  • 2006 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary
    • Drew Edmondson ran unopposed

On November 7, 2006, Drew Edmondson won re-election to the office of Oklahoma Attorney General. He defeated James Dunn (R) in the general election.

Oklahoma Attorney General, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDrew Edmondson Incumbent 61.2% 563,364
     Republican James Dunn 38.8% 357,267
Total Votes 920,631
Election Results Via: Oklahoma State Board of Elections

2002

  • 2002 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary
    • Drew Edmondson ran unopposed

On November 5, 2002, Drew Edmondson won re-election to the office of Oklahoma Attorney General. He defeated Denise A. Bode (R) in the general election.

Oklahoma Attorney General, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDrew Edmondson Incumbent 60.1% 615,932
     Republican Denise A. Bode 39.9% 408,833
Total Votes 1,024,765
Election Results Via: Oklahoma State Board of Elections

Campaign contributions

2006 Race for Attorney General - Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $663,759
Total Raised by Primary Opponent N/A
Total Raised by Gen. Election Opponent $342,456
Top 5 Contributors AFSCME $5,000 (0.75% of Total)
David J. Chernicky $5,000 (0.75%)
J. D. Williams $5,000 (0.75%)
Democratic Attorneys General Association $5,000 (0.75%)
Nix, Patterson, & Roach $5,000 (0.75%)
Other Notable Contributors AT&T $5,000 (0.75% of Total)
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma $4,000 (0.60%)
Individuals v. Institutions $504,625 (76%)
$123,850 (18.7%)
In v. Outside State $497,821 (75.8%)
$158,362 (24.1%)

Personal

Edmondson currently resides in Muskogee, Oklahoma with his wife, Linda Larason. The couple has had two children together - Mary and Robert. He is also a practicing Presbyterian.

Awards

  • Public Policy Award (2004) from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)
  • Kelly-Wyman Award (2005) from the Sierra Club
  • Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Public Service (2005) from the American Medical Association (AMA)
  • National Aging and Law Award (2008) from AARP
  • 100 Centurion Award (2009) from Northeastern State University
  • Champion of Nursing Award (2009) from the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing

Contact Information

Drew Edmondson for Governor of Oklahoma Campaign logo

Capitol Address:
Office of the Attorney General
313 Northeast 21st Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Phone: 405-521-3921
Fax: 405-522-4534

See also

External links

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from September 26, 2010.


The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from September 26, 2010.


References

Oklahoma
  1. 1.0 1.1 KOTV "Attorney General Drew Edmondson For Governor" 10 June, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Oklahoma State Election Board - 2010 Primary Election Results
  3. FindLaw - Keating v. Edmondson summary
  4. ProCon - Boy Scouts of America v. Dale summary
  5. Follow the Money - Contributions of Edmondson, William Andrew From Stipe, Gene
  6. Prowling Owl, "Edmondson Says He Plans to Keep $1000" 2 Nov. 2006
  7. Follow the Money - Contributions to McMahan, Jeff Alan From Edmondson for Attorney General
  8. Oklahoma Political News Service, "Birds of a Feather..." 26 March, 2007 (dead link)
  9. Competitive Enterprise Institute, "Issue Analysis: The Nation’s Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General" 12 July, 2010
  10. Free Paul Jacob, "Statement of Paul Jacob" 2 Oct. 2007 (timed out)
  11. YouTube, "Third Party Presidential Debate" 24 Oct. 2008
  12. The Wall Street Journal, "Oklahoma's Most Wanted" 19 Nov. 2007
  13. Free Paul Jacob, "Has North Korea Annexed Oklahoma?" 17 Nov. 2007
  14. Muskogee Phoenix, "THE PEOPLE SPEAK: Petitioner indictments short democratic rights" 19 Jan. 2008 (dead link)
  15. Oklahoma Political News Service, "Oklahoma's Swinging Gate of Double Standards:Don't be Found on the Wrong Side of the Political Gate" 14 Oct. 2007 (dead link)
  16. Tulsa World, "State won't appeal initiative petition ruling" 22 Jan. 2009
  17. Muskogee Phoenix, "Poultry producers say AG grandstanding with lawsuit" 21 Nov. 2007
  18. Legal Newsline, "Edmondson's poultry lawsuit may be based on bad science" 10 March, 2009
  19. Tulsa Beacon, "Lawmakers claim Drew Edmondson is wasting ‘millions’" 12 March, 2009
  20. Organic Consumers Association, "Okla. Loses Round in Bid to Block Poultry Waste" 13 May, 2009
  21. NewsOK "Oklahoma attorney general Drew Edmondson expresses concern over health care bill" 15 Jan. 2010
  22. Politico, "GOP AGs may sue over health bill" 24 Dec. 2009
  23. News Talk Radio KRMG "AG will not challenge health care law" 12 April, 2010
  24. Tulsa World, "Poll puts Fallin in lead for governor" 10 Jan. 2010


Political offices
Preceded by
Susan B. Loving
Oklahoma Attorney General
1995–2010
Succeeded by
Scott Pruitt