Richard Merrill "Rick" Carpenter is an Oklahoma citizen and political activist who helped organize the Stop Overspending Initiative in 2005 and 2006. He argued for the measure in numerous venues. He called the proposed law a "budget stabilization measure", saying that, under the measure “state government will still grow, but it would be a sustainable growth.” The reason for promoting the measure as an initiative was bipartisan stalemate in Tulsa: “Democrats can't stop eating and Republicans can’t stay on a diet.” Further, he insisted that opposition came “from those with vested interests” while support came “from one simple group of people: the taxpayers."
His characterization of the polarity of support and opposition arguably proved prescient, for on October 2, 2007, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Drew Edmondson, charged him with two felonies: violating the state petition act and conspiracy to defraud the state of Oklahoma by hiring paid, out-of-state petitioners. (Also charged on the second count were Paul Jacob and Susan Johnson.)
Carpenter is one of the Oklahoma 3. Carpenter, Paul Jacob and Susan Johnson were criminally charged by Drew Edmondson, the Democratic attorney general of Oklahoma in 2007 for allegedly violating the state's residency requirement. The charges were denied and, as the result of a federal lawsuit, Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, the Tenth Circuit ruled unanimously on December 18, 2008 that the law under which Edmondson was criminally prosecuting the trio was unconstitutional. Edmondson asked the court to re-consider; on January 21, the court said it would not do so. Edmondson then on January 22 dropped his prosecution, saying that the 1969 law under which he was prosecuting them was "no longer enforceable".
In the eighteen months that elapsed between the time that Edmondson filed and then dropped the charges, his attempt to jail the Oklahoma 3 for ten years led the Wall Street Journal to compare the government in Oklahoma to that of Pakistan, and led Steve Forbes of Forbes to compare the government of Oklahoma to the government of North Korea.
- "Oklahoma Libertarian Party State Convention Held"
- "Petition Backers Indicted On Felony Charges", Associated Press, October 2, 2007
- Associated Press, "State won't appeal initiative petition ruling", January 22, 2009
- Wall St. Journal, "Oklahoma's Most Wanted; The latest thing in political felonies: a petition drive"
- Forbes magazine, "Has North Korea Annexed Oklahoma?"