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Creepy Sooner Tea Party dude is not good at blackmail…

al gerhart

A little over  year ago, Uncle Fester impersonator Al Gerhardt was charged with blackmail after firing off this crazy email to State Senator Cliff Branan:

“Branan, Get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it. I will make you the laughing stock of the Senate if I don’t hear that this bill will be heard and passed. We will dig into your past, yoru family, your associates and once we start on you there will be no end to it. This is a promise.”

That was pretty stupid. For one, Fetus Flakes creator Ralph Shortey is still in office so it's virtually impossible for anyone else to be "the laughing stock of Oklahoma senate." Don't make a threat you can't enforce.

Two, blackmail is illegal. You can't threaten to damage someone's reputation just because the don't meet some sort of demand. Unfortunately, I know this first hand. For several years now, Joleen Chaney and Emily Sutton have blackmailed me by threatening to expose our secret relationship if I stopped writing haikus about weather and watermelons:

Clouds grow in the sky
watermelons piling high
waiting for sunshine

Watermelon wine
is sweet and very divine
Look out a squall line!

Let's be honest. Can you blame them?

Anyway, an Oklahoma jury found Gerhart guilty of blackmail late last night. Here are the details from The Oklahoman's Nolan "Droopy" Clay:

Sooner Tea Party leader Al Gerhart was found guilty Wednesday night of blackmailing a state senator.

Gerhart, an Oklahoma City carpenter, did not get any prison time. Jurors decided a $1,000 fine should be the only punishment for the felony offense.

“The jury held him accountable,” prosecutor Scott Rowland said afterward. “They obviously worked very hard to make the punishment fit the crime. I think they got it right. ... I suspect the jury believes this will be an appropriate deterrent to him and others.”...

A dejected Gerhart said the verdicts against him “just chills free speech.”

I don't know if the verdict necessarily "chills free speech." Whether its blackmail, libel or slander, you can still say whatever you want whenever you want. You just either have to a) by prepared to deal with the consequences or b) mask it under the guise of satire. That's always worked for us.

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