Please contact my Assistant Attorney General,
Tiffany Wythe for any further assistance
Those were the words of Oklahoma Medical Examiners Office Chief Administrative Officer Amy Elliot after refusing to release records under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Back in late March we put in Open Records requests for any and all information on Michaelena "Mickie" Taylor of the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and Brenda Houghton AKA Brenda Reneau.
Initially we had followed up the email Open Records request by calling their records division where the clerk warned us that the request would need to go through a higher office. The strange thing was they denied any knowledge of us requesting the info yet the clerk knew what we were asking for and why. Another request was sent to the records clerk but it was answered by Amy Elliot, the Chief Administrative Officer for the Medical Examiners Office.
If you remember back to January 2014 we had written about the Reneau death and how it was covered up by listing her death certificate under a former married name, Houghton, reaching back 30 years into the past and four or five marriages past. Reneau was a serial marrying type, with over a half dozen marriages in her life. At the time we also spoke with Amy Elliot but were unaware of how high her position was until this week.
The initial contact with the records department back in January of 2014 would up being passed to Amy Elliot who we assumed was another records clerk. Elliot denied that Brenda Reneau’s death had been handled by the Medical Examiners Office which got us to digging and talking to enough old timers in politics till we dug up a list of her marriages. Narrowing it down to Brenda Houghton we called back to Amy Elliot and requested the toxicology report on Brenda Houghton. Elliot paused for a second or two then quietly asked “How could you have known that?”
The initial response last week from Amy Elliot was this:
“Ms. Brenda Houghton died of natural causes and was not under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner's office. Please see the public record for Ms. Michaelena Taylor.”
We responded back that they had personnel at the scene on both cases and laid out the suspicious circumstances behind both deaths. Elliot immediately threw Michaelena Taylor and the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce under the bus by giving us the toxicology report on Taylor but denied that the ME’s office had any information on Brenda Reneau and suggested we contact the Health Department to get a copy of her death certificate, knowing full well that those are nearly impossible to obtain unless you are family or law enforcement.
To tell the truth the Taylor case was the most important one to us at the time, we were just curious about the Reneau case as we had not followed up to get the toxicology report that Elliot said wasn’t finished back in January of 2014.
The January 2014 story came out of two inside sources that claimed that Reneau had been found alone with bottles of prescription pharmaceuticals scattered all over the house and the on scene investigators were convinced that the death was an overdose death, enough so that they drew blood and asked for a toxicology report. Elliot did not deny this at the time but gave the cause of death as atherosclerosis heart disease, a thickening of the heart muscle that eventually kills the patient. Elliot admitted that only an external examination was performed and that no autopsy was done. She also said that the toxicology report was not complete and would be finished in a few weeks.
However, this year Elliot is changing her story. Now she claims the ME’s office refused jurisdiction and left the scene without doing anything. When we pressed for any and all information including any initial contact report that led them to show up at the death scene Amy Elliot replied:
“Please contact my Assistant Attorney General, Tiffany Wythe for any further assistance.”
Now why would she clam up so quickly and immediately “lawyer up” as the term goes?
A couple of phone calls got two elected officials involved, who shall remain unnamed at this point out of courtesy, and another copy of the toxicology report on Taylor was sent along with the statutes on which cases the ME’s office has to take charge of by statute. The ME’s office continued with the claim that they had no involvement as the attending physician said it was a death caused by natural causes. The problem was that Reneau died alone, at her home, unexpectedly, making it an unattended death which by statute calls for the ME’s office to become involved.
There is some precedent for calling an unattended death an attended death such as a patient in a nursing home that was supervised by a doctor who was prescribing medications over the phone but in those cases death was expected, indeed the nursing home was staffed with nurses 24/7 and most of the cases are chronic cases where the outcome is just a matter of time. Generally if a person has been seen by a doctor within two to four weeks they are considered under the care of a doctor but again that does not make it an attended death.
The statute also calls for ME’s office involvement when there are suspicious circumstances around the death. Here is the actual statute definitions:
The following words or terms, when used in this Chapter shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Medical Examiner" means a licensed medical or osteopathic physician appointed by the chief medical examiner under provisions of Title 63 OS, Section 937.
"Medical Examiner Cases" means any death required by Section 938 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes to be investigated and certified by a medical examiner.
"Violent, suspicious, or unnatural deaths" include all those designations of deaths known or suspected to have resulted from accident, suicide or homicide where death is related to injury of any type.
The underlined section is our emphasis and it is clear that any overdose be it intentional or accidental requires the ME’s office to intervene.
We are still working with one legislator who is attempting to get the incident report so we can start unraveling this mystery. We know that the ME’s office was at the Reneau/Houghton death scene so there is a report or incident report that was filed. There will be notes on why they declined jurisdiction if then actually did and remember that sources claimed and Elliot didn’t deny that blood samples were obtained but not worked up yet.
Here is our take on what probably went down. The ME’s office is called in by the investigating police officer, the pill bottles and what few signs of overdose might have been present. We also know that death scene investigators reported that her parents revealed that Reneau was “distraught” over her illness, depressed and perhaps suicidal. We know that Reneau voted as Brenda Reneau meaning that she had a drivers license or some other form of ID with that name on or near her person at the time of her death so why report the death using a former married name from three decades before? But it was done and no doubt to cover up the manner of death.
So the case his handled discretely, the death scene report and burial were done under a false or outdated name, and indeed a report was generated on the toxicology of the blood. All was under control until the Sooner Tea Party started asking questions. At that point someone panicked and the decision was made to hide any involvement by the ME’s office. And the ready response from Amy Elliot to pull in the Attorney General’s office speaks volumes.
We will continue to pursue this Open Records report. The ability of a government office to falsify death records means they can falsify any death record to protect well know politicians or to cover up a wrongful death at the hands of authorities. The ME’s office has been mired in scandal for many years and it looks like they didn’t learn their lesson.
Blood on their Hands
Was the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce Responsible for the Death of Mickey Taylor?
The second case in the Open Records request was that of the death of Michaelena Taylor, the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce lobbyist that died in December of 2014. Taylor died when her car overturned in a single car accident while she was speeding from a Chamber event to allegedly meet a small group of legislators, to smoke cigars of all things.
No mention was made of alcohol involvement except as reader comments in the news stories, comments that were savagely attacked by fellow posters. However the toxicology report from the Medical Examiners Office showed acute ethanol intoxication with a blood level of .13 % and a vitreous level of .12 %. Impairment of your driving skills begins for a 170 pound woman at .03% , criminal penalties begin around .06 to .05 as you are driving under the influence at that point (DUI), and once a 170 pound woman is at .1 to .11 she is legally intoxicated or drunk. As the BAC, Blood Alcohol Content is the defining test (no sticking a needle into your eye to test you thank God) then Taylor was drunk as she was at .13%.
The manner of death was positional asphyxiation, pinned under the car she died from not being able to breathe. The injuries she incurred were not that bad but being drunk, possibly passing out while driving, meant that she was unable to change her position and simply died because she couldn’t breathe. She might well have survived the crash if she was sober and of course she probably wouldn’t have crashed if she wasn’t drunk.
Two questions that need asked:
1. This was a workplace accident as Taylor was performing her duties as a lobbyist. Has the Labor Department done a workplace death investigation?
2. As the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce is responsible for the work place death have they provided compensation under Workers Comp or have they made the family an offer of restitution?
Below are screen shots of the Medical Examiners Office toxicology report on the death of Michaelena Taylor:
Legislation that Needs your Attention
We used a picture of a painting of the original Constitutional Convention to remind everyone of the paucity of men of Washington or Jefferson's stature.
HJR 1018 is a misguided attempt to push for a constitutional convention to call for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It passed the House in March by three votes and is coming back for another vote after passing the Senate. A Con Con is a very dangerous thing that could totally re write our U.S. Constitution and strip away the 2nd Amendment and other protections. Liberals have been pushing for a Con Con for decades. Please call your Representative and ask them to vote against HJR 1018 and SJR 4 which is also up for a House floor vote next week.
The email list for legislators is at the bottom of every email. Be sure and call your state Rep and tell them that you live in their district.
Project Vote Smart Publishes Sooner Tea Party
Endorsements and RINO Indexes
They have linked to our RINO Indexes before but last week Project vote Smart reached out asking to re publish one of our pre election endorsement newsletters after finding it on the Red Dirt Report website. Project Vote Smart is an invaluable non partisan website that tracks voting records and donations of politicians all over the country.
The website also started promoting our weekly newsletter by linking to the archived newsletters. The Sooner Tea Party has become a go to guide for Oklahoma politicians and the annual Oklahoma RINO Index will be easily found by voters all over the state.
House Speaker and Senate Pro Tem
Race Heating Up
The Founding Fathers carefully planned out the system of legislators where a House and a Senate controls legislation.
House members are elected every two years so are much closer to the people in terms of being held accountable for their bad votes and the districts are about half the size of a senate district so it is easier and cheaper to punish them for bad behavior. And since all House members are elected every two years they are all at risk for being swept out of office for bad votes. The House is the master of the purse strings as all legislation on spending must originate from the House.
The Senators serve for four years, a long time in politics, and the terms are staggered so that only half are up for re election each time. This insulation from popular opinion is supposed to give the Senate somewhat of a flywheel effect so it can consider the long term effect of legislation and avoid some of the public pressure. They also approve certain appointments that the Governor selects.
Historically the House was the leader due to more frequent elections and the ability to hold the purse strings. That changed when then president pro tem Glen Coffee barged into the House in a fit of rage and chewed out then Speaker Chris Benge. Benge bowed down and the Senate has ran the show since.
Historically there are two types of leaders in legislatures; the weak and the strong.
Weak leaders get there because they are puppets and are set in place by special interests controlling a handful of legislators. Once in place the weak Speakers and Pro Tem will use their lieutenants to enforce order using committee chairmanship positions as bait, assigning independent minded legislators to poor offices, or simply by killing off their legislation. Electing a strong leader is extremely rare and they are almost always exceptionally honest men with integrity. Special interests controlling (bribing) the leadership team in both House and Senate know that men of integrity will oppose their agendas so it is a rare situation when a strong leader emerges and it signifies a revolution of the newer legislators.
Leadership elections almost always are close, two or three votes can determine who wins. The elections are based within the political parties, Democrats can’t vote for the Republican nominee although they do get to vote to confirm the party nominee.
House Speaker Jeff Hickman is term limited out in 2016 so the Speaker’s position is up for grabs in an expected October Republican Caucus election. Hickman has been a good Speaker after losing the 2011 Speaker Designate race to TW Shannon where the time in the wilderness did him some good. Hickman remained loyal to those that enabled his election and we saw a lot of conservative Republicans seated as committee chairmen. Hickman also did a good job on keeping the worst of the bad legislation from being heard in committee because Hickman well knows that his actions will follow him once he returns to private life after being termed out.
So far a handful of hopefuls are testing the waters for the Speaker race. Here is the run down on some of the ones we will not support:
Earl Sears, horribly liberal Representative barely kept in check by Speaker Hickman the last few years. Sears earned a measly 10 points out of 100 on the 2014 Oklahoma RINO Index, voting against one corporate welfare bill, probably because he didn’t receive campaign donations on the issue. Sears is from Bartlesville and has carried a lot of water for liberal Republicans. An absolute disaster for conservatives should he be elected as we would have to switch our attention from beating on the Senate.
Todd Martin, comes from Cleveland County , his district is down near Norman. Another absolutely horrible liberal Republican that is nothing more than a State Chamber whore. Earned a zero on the 2014 Oklahoma RINO Index by voting for every State Chamber issue and ignoring his constituents. There is going to be bloody political fight if this turd gets elected as speaker.
Leslie Osborn, somewhat socially conservative if the wind is blowing that direction. She managed to score a 10 out of 100 points on the 2014 Oklahoma RINO Index only because she missed two votes. Definitely a State Chamber of Commerce stooge. Osborn also has abysmal personal character as we reported in 2011 when rumors of a long term affair with a fellow legislator came out. One of our best learned guides to politicians is how they treat their spouses; if they cheat on a spouse then they will cheat on the public once elected.
Jason Nelson, probably the worst of the lot. Outright State Chamber lackey, huge proponent of Obama Care as the Mary Fallin released emails showed us. Very ambitious, went so far to sign up on a gay website to curry favor with the homosexuals after he found they were discussing one of his bills. It is okay though, one of the gays said “Nelson doesn’t have a gay face.” So Nelson is probably straight and isn’t going to push a gay agenda. Nelson will do what he is told by the State Chamber if he is elected and will bring a lot of strife and conflict to the House of Representatives and is likely to erase all the gains that conservatives have fought for over the years.
Lewis Moore, a good man and solidly conservative on social issues and the over reach of the federal government. Not so good on tax credits and corporate welfare issues I’m afraid but there is hope because his wife is a solid conservative and has been known to give him hell on occasion when he slips up. Moore doesn’t have enough support though and would help split the vote on the first ballot so we are encouraging Lewis to not run at this time. Moore would be a better candidate than anyone above but it is not time for half measures, we need to clean house so to speak.
In the Senate Brinkley and Treat are testing the waters.
Brinkley would be another conservative disaster as he is a complete State Chamber whore. Earning a paltry 20 out of 100 points on the 2014 Oklahoma RINO Index, Brinkley got two votes right, one on the National Popular vote and another on creating a new state agency. Brinkley is from Owasso and tied firmly to the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and the State Chamber of Commerce.
Treat is one of Tom Coburn’s protégés but earned a paltry 30 on the 2014 Oklahoma RINO Index, getting the vote right on the National Popular vote and two corporate welfare bills. Treat is the lesser of evils in the race and yes we are sick of the lesser of evils but this is what we have in the Senate. There simply are not enough conservative Senators to support an anti State Chamber candidate. Senate leadership is heavy handed and punishes any conservative minded senator.
The upcoming Speaker race is extremely important for conservatives. We had a conservative lite Speaker the last three years but it is time to clean house and elect a solidly conservative Speaker that will retake the power of the House of Representatives. The Senate almost always lags behind public opinion and the House by two to three years but in the last five years the State Chamber controlled Senate has stymied most of the conservative legislation and attempts to control corruption.
We will be watching the Speaker race in particular this year and will keep you updated.
I Think We Found a Replacement
for Sheriff Whetsel
And We Thought there Were Men in Texas
Oklahoma County Whetsel might be able to retire in safety if he can recruit the Deputy in this video.
The nine month pregnant woman was handcuffed as Deputies assisted DHS workers in kidnapping the family’s children after one of the younger children reported a shoving match between husband and wife to school authorities.
Two male deputies are shown in the video bending the 9 month pregnant woman over a kitchen countertop while other deputies try to snatch the children. The woman of course is freaking out as any decent mother would and is yelling. As she is being assaulted her 18 month old is naturally terrified and is screaming in fear. One manly deputy decides that a few punches to the back and head are in order to enforce his authority. Apparently he wasn’t concerned about her unborn baby or the mother being forced over a hard surface, his authority being challenged was enough for his training to take over and start throwing punches. And yes, that is irony intended. As the brutality ensues other officers stand around as if nothing is happening and do not intervene to protect the pregnant woman.
The woman is a decorated Air Force veteran and she spent six days in jail for assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, interfering with custody, and a week after she was released from jail she gave birth to a son who is in custody of the grandparents.
The incident started after deputies forced their way into the home without showing any sort of warrant or court papers. After the decorated Air Force veteran demanded to see a court order or warrant the deputies forced their way into the home and assaulted the woman as she was trying to shield her 18 month old child. At that point the deputies handcuffed the woman and slammed her into the kitchen counter as they snatched the child. She was hit a total of five or six times while handcuffed and bent over the kitchen counter.
The sheriff is a good role model for Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel. The sheriff immediately claimed that the woman was trying to get hold of one of the deputy’s weapon, claiming that a gun belt had been “loosened”. Right…. a five foot two, nine month pregnant woman can do that while being assaulted by two grown men and handcuffed.
Luckily the unborn child was not injured and is doing well but the woman sustained bruising and pain. There are pictures of massive black and blue bruising on the woman’s belly after the event, about two weeks before she gave birth to her son.
The sheriff’s office quickly bowed to public pressure after trying to tarnish the woman’s reputation by claiming she was trying to reach for a weapon and opened an investigation. He knows too well that people will forget about this quickly enough and all he has t do is drag it out for a month or two.
But the Deputy will most likely be looking for another job. There is your chance, John, better snap him up before another department hires him. He follows orders and his training John and will probably protect you if you retire. Better get him before Brian Bingman runs him for senator.
Mike Schulz, a Zero for his Constituents
By the Watchman
We continued our assessment of the Oklahoma State Senate by looking at Mike Schulz, the man selected to be the Majority Floor Leader. What we found was tantamount to obey the State Chamber of Commerce and you get a promotion. This is really a case of batting a zero and coming out smelling like a rose.
The next item of interest we found was this Mike Schulz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Here we at least found that he was married. There is no mention of any children though. There still isn’t a whole lot of information here. It’s as if the person who wrote his web site for the senate wrote his Wikipedia page.
The next item of interest we found was this Mike Schulz, Currently Elected State Senator District 38, Oklahoma. Here we learned that he was reluctant to indicate his goals, objectives and philosophies as an elected official. This leaves us asking how the people of his district can elect him to office if they have no idea where he stands on the issues. We find this very odd indeed.
The next item of interest we found was this Mike Schulz - Oklahoma Legislature - Open States. This gives you an idea as to the funds collected for his political campaigns, but more importantly it gives you an idea as to how some of his more recent votes have gone and some of the bills he has sponsored.
Agriculture and Food
2013 Oklahoma Farm Bureau Federation 100%
Business and Consumers
2012 Research Institute for Economic Development 100%
2011 Oklahoma National Federation of Independent Business 100%
2010 Research Institute for Economic Development 88%
2009 OKWatchdog on Consumer and Patient Advocacy 64%
2014 Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee 40%
2013 Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee 69%
2013 Sooner Tea Party 20%
We could keep going, but it would be like beating a dead horse. The man is clearly for the business interest of the state and not the individual citizens of this state.
We next went to www.followthemoney.org to see what they had on his campaign finances. What we found was from the 2012 campaign cycle. The Senator will be term limited in 2018. What we found was numerous Political Action Committees, unions and a few individual citizens listed.
Dec. 12, 2012 EDP Renewable N.A. LLC, Houston Tx. $500.00
Jan. 31, 2013 Oklahoma Corrections Professionals PAC (Union) $325.00
Jan. 31, 2014 OKC Retired Firefighters Association (Union) $200.00
Oct. 09, 2014 Chesapeake Oklahoma PAC $1,000.00
Oct. 09, 2015 Oklahoma Retired Educators Fund $800.00
Schulz continues to collect donations into 2015, even though he will not see another election to a state office. It leaves us wondering if he has future plans for a higher office. We certainly hope that this liberal Senator will never be elected or appointed to another office in the state.
We next took a look at the voting record of Senator Schulz on subjects that matter to Oklahomans. Here is what we found.
SB 906 Popular Vote, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
HB 3198 OETA Sunset Bill, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
HB 2580 Film Bill, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
SB 2128 Corporate Welfare, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
HB 2533 Pipeline Safety, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
SB 1173 County Purchasing, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
HB 2974 Corporate Welfare, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
HB 2480 Agenda 21, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
SB 1639 Corporate Welfare, Voted Yea, Liberal Vote
This is enough to make his constituents sick. Nine chances to do right for the people of Oklahoma and he didn’t even get one vote for the people right. All we can say is thank goodness he is in his last term in office. This is another prime example of the push to put Republicans in office whether they believed in what the party stood for or not. Senator Schulz obviously does not.
Senator Schulz you are in your last term in office. You were elected by the people of your district to represent them and their concerns at the Capital, but you were elected to do more than that. When you took that oath of office you took an oath to serve the State of Oklahoma. That means doing right for not just your district, but for the entire state. Try acting like you believe in the oath that you took. Try doing what’s right for the people of Oklahoma not what’s right for the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce.
What We Have Here Is A Failure To Maintain
By Ms PM
What we’re talking about again is the poor condition of the highways here in Oklahoma. Is there an increase in drunken driving citations? Or is it that once a motorist is stopped the officer realizes that the operator of the vehicle was simply swerving to miss potholes.
You know it’s bad when a state transportation engineer interjects God into the picture and says, “Thank God for a pothole!” God works in mysterious ways and quite possibly the man could have been drawn to the location because of a spiritual feeling he had. The intervention just as likely could be explained because God knows that the state is incapable of addressing the issue to ensure the roads and bridges are safe for travel. Regardless of the how and why God does what He does, the bridge will be fixed.
This Godly pothole led the educated, well paid engineer to peek at the underside of this corroded excuse for a well maintained bridge. It’s pretty typical that those in charge have hairballs for gonads. Rather than fix a problem before a bridge has to be closed the issue of maintenance is spun into a fairy tale of see how lucky we are with Gods intervention.
The division engineer, Anthony Echelle said, “Had the bridge not been given quick attention, it could have collapsed.” In the real world quick attention doesn’t mean waiting until a bridge is ready to collapse, it means giving it the maintenance before reaching critical mass. This leading from behind is reminiscent of what happened to the Lexington Bridge. The end result is the same. Both bridges are closed and it’s a 60 mile detour. This new example requires the 2,300 daily motorists to visit Arkansas along their journey to get from point A to point B.
This article was written on April 7th and the repairs are expected to be finished with the reopening on May 1st. That is 24 days of detour and approximately 1,448 extra miles for a one way trip or 2,880 if you make the round trip. If you average that a vehicle gets 20MPG that’s an extra $158.00 one way or $316.00 for this temporary closure and “quick attention.”
Considering the squawk boxes are always pounding the drum about the quantity of poor people here in Oklahoma it doesn’t seem to matter that the state has cost some of those same folks a hardship. This tune titled “hypocrisy” spun into “we’re the lucky ones” is only one example of the lack of leadership and disdain for citizens.
Blame for the shape of our roads and bridges has a plethora of excuses that no doubt would be plentiful in filling these holes. Mr. Bad Winter with his freezing and thawing and the never ending Mr. Big Truck attached to the heavy energy traffic. If the numb nuts in charge had a clue about planning they would know that every year we have frozen winters and that Oklahoma has big trucks running around the state picking up and delivering crude oil and trucks that deliver fuel to gas stations which, by the way contributes largely to Oklahoma’s economy. The big boys whine when the oil prices drop because they get less money for revenue. The practice of never letting a crisis go to waste is always met with the blame game.
This article addresses new earthquake guidelines. The most telling line in it says, “Transportation officials say they have not identified any damage caused by earthquakes since 2011, despite thousands of smaller quakes. However, they note that many of the state’s highway bridges are very old and have pre-existing damage.”
In all of this we ask again and again, when is the state going to address this lack of maintenance for our roads and bridges? Skipping the hoedown festival with the good ole’boys network that ignores the important issues within our state would be a good start.