Tag Archives: ok state rep. charles key


OK State Representative Charles Key: Hero for State Sovereignty

There aren’t a lot of elected officials who get me excited, make me proud, or give me a whole lot of hope. Heck, most I’ve looked into or dealt with directly do nothing more than reinforce the belief that the future looks pretty dang dark.

Most have all kinds of motives that really make them unfit for the post; ego, power lust, or personal ambition. Even¬† those who may have started with good intentions end up on a very short leash which one can virtually seeing being yanked, and hard, at certain moments. They have been bought. Beyond that, it’s clear that many are so busy keeping their jobs they’ve forgotten why they wanted them in the first place.

I’ve recently had the privilege and honor of getting to know one of those rare gems in politics – an elected official who has kept his feet on the ground despite long service in public office, maintains a clear vision of what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, understands the legislative process, and somehow manages to work within the system without being corrupted by it.¬† The type of fellow who would do a beautiful job of conveying to campaign contributors the perfect message about what a donation means – support for his principles and goals – but no ownership stake. The ability to affably disagree with others on pointed questions because of a proper balance of self-assurance in his convictions yet absent inflated ego.

Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key is that man. Those who understand the system originally intended by the Founders for this country and how far away the current system has been moved from it, owe Rep. Key a debt of gratitude. His own understanding of the need to restore elements that have been progressively stripped away led to action on his part. That action was at the tip of the spear.

Rep. Key introduced a resolution in 2008 in the Oklahoma State legislature with the intent of centering legislative debate on a Constitutional basis. The resolution was a simple reiteration of principles articulated in the Constitution regarding the role of the federal government in relation to the States. A review of Article 1, Section 8, which enumerates the powers of the federal government.

Some critics, proponents of Constitutional, limited government though they be, have scoffed at Tenth Amendment / Sovereignty Resolutions, noting what is in fact true – these resolutions do not carry the force of law. I’ve realized Rep. Charles Key knew full and well; the environment in our state legislatures is so far off base in the way it does business, its elected officials so ignorant of the Constitution and their duties in relation to it, it was a necessity to begin the process of reorienting legislators. Again, it was a necessity that debate begin to be re-focused and centered around Constitutional principles.

Trail blazers always have the most difficult job. Previously unwalked paths of wilderness always need to have the bramble cleared away so others may have an easier time. It took two legislative sessions for Key to get his resolution passed in Oklahoma. (Additional information the whole movement, including information about OK, here.)

I’ve not had the time to read committee hearing or floor debate transcripts, or to hear the conversations in the halls of the Oklahoma legislature, but I cannot imagine there wasn’t at least one charge that Charles Key introduced his resolution as a “political ploy”.

Any such accusation has been more than answered by follow-up action. It is quite clear – a Sovereignty resolution was only the first step. The OK resolution passed in February 2009. Rep. Key introduced a number of sovereignty related measures at the opening of the 2010 session, including HB 2810, known as “Tenth with Teeth”.

If Oklahoma is to truly exercise its Tenth Amendment sovereignty, it must untether itself from federal funds. Rep. Key’s bill proposed setting aside federal tax dollars and reviewing federal mandates if there was concern by legislators they violate Constitutional sovereignty. The teeth in the bill involved withholding the escrowed federal funds if the OK legislature opted not to enforce or participate in a federal program and the federal government threatened monetary sanctions.

Besides following up with sovereignty legislation, Rep. Key has assisted other states in their efforts. In January of this year, he testified at a Kansas State Legislature committee hearing about their sovereignty resolution and attended a Sovereignty Symposium in Omaha, NE.

He even took time at one of the busiest periods in his schedule to come to Lincoln to testify before a Nebraska Unicameral committee in support of our state’s resolution. There was a pressing important legislative deadline, two speaking engagements scheduled back to back and, it turned out, a persisting upper respiratory infection that would have laid most flat, but didn’t mention except in passing as he cleared his throat on the way to the hearing.

Rep. Key at GiN post-hearing dinner, February 19, 2010

Of course, those of us who worked to put the testimony together in support of Nebraska’s LR 292 knew testimony from Representative Charles Key of Oklahoma would be very helpful in convincing the members of the committee to vote in support, we’ve recognized that his contribution was vital for several reasons. His articulation of the issue was more assertive than that of the resolution’s sponsor in introducing it to the committee and his exchange with the measure’s most vocal opponent, Committee Chair Bill Avery, more than equal to the challenge. (You can read the committee testimony transcript HERE. Rep. Key testified following Senator Tony Fulton’s introduction.)

While Rep. Key could have simply testified and retired to rest in his hotel room, he announced to me upon pick up at the airport (in the middle of the night, no less) that he could sleep when he got home. He wanted to talk to as many people as possible while in Nebraska – to learn as much about the active people here and our legislative process as he could.

Besides giving his testimony, he spent time on the Unicameral floor, did a radio interview with KFAB’s Scott Voorhees, met with various group leaders, mixed and mingled with Nebraskans at a reception, gave a speech at a dinner, and sat for an interview with local access’ Give Me Liberty TV . Given his schedule, he had little time to prepare, yet with each interaction, interview, and speech, delivered his intended message articulately, thought on his feet wonderfully, and clearly listened and learned. He was not only working to convey particular messages, he was observing, and looking to help me and others in the state. In between each activity, he gave me his assessments and summarized what he had learned. He conveyed information he believed helpful in reaching my goals and let me know what he would carry back to Oklahoma.

Despite the grueling schedule, the usual attendant nonsense of “herding cats” associated with any effort like the one in which he was involved, inclement weather, arrangements put together with little lead time, little sleep and an illness, at the end of a very long day, Charles Key was upbeat, energized, and optimistic.

And he was quite right to be. Despite a number of additional bumps in the road following the hearing, the Nebraska Sovereignty Resolution passed on April 13, with 39 “yays”, 3 “nays”, and 7 “not voting”.

During one of my conversations with Charles, I asked him why he didn’t run for Congress or Senate. He noted that the timing wasn’t right for family reasons. Maybe in the future. He said this with no gleam of ambition in his eyes. We spoke about the time he was out of the OK legislature and his return including a few details about tactics used by opponents during campaigns. I detected that he was more than happy to serve the people of his legislative district but it was not a job which was vital to his existence. Climbing up the political ladder is not something he thirsts for.

In my mind, this is precisely the sort of fellow who should be drafted for offices even higher than state legislature. Just the sort that should be in higher office. I’m hearing from Oklahoma friends that there are some folks down there who would rather keep their little circles of power just as they are and see the legislature run just as it has been. So they have to figure out ways to attack Charles Key. He’s had some victories, obviously. Apparently, that’s not acceptable.

I don’t find this surprising, it’s really the nature of things. There is something about people who are effective and who have integrity that really gets under the skin of “the establishment”. But if Charles Key persists, he will be just fine….

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”*

Be a fan of Representative Charles Key on Facebook, by clicking HERE.

*This quote is often contributed to Gandhi, but Wikiquotes reports this is in dispute. Either way, it’s a good point.


Lincoln Journal Star Article on February 19 Sovereignty Hearing Requires Commments

Click on the image to go the article on LJS's site

The Lincoln Journal Star carried an article about the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing that was held on Friday entitled “Bill Would Give Voice to States’ Rights”.

This article requires parsing and needs to be commented on by those who support the Constitution and a return to a truly Federalist Republic.

Before presenting an analysis of the article, I want to be sure to urge everyone to go to the Lincoln Journal Star’s online version of this article and leave a comment. As is always the case, the radical left has “staked out the joint” and descended upon the article there, spewing their usual nonsense. As part of our effort to educate and win one battle in the war of ideas, I think we need to vow from now on to make comment on these issues on the Lincoln Journal Star’s website.

LJS SOV Article with arrowTo leave a comment on any LJS article, just click on the “Discussion” tab in the upper left hand corner of the article’s frame.

Click HERE to go to Sovereignty article.

So, let the analysis begin with the title of the article and the subject of “states’ rights”.

States do not have rights, citizens do. States have powers.

The bias of The Lincoln Journal Star – its bent (not lean) to the left is laid bare – right out of the gate. Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bill Avery used the phrase “states’ rights” repeatedly during the hearing for L.R. 292, along with every other leftist argument used in opposition to adhering to Constitutional principles. More on Senator Avery later.

Before dealing with the Committee Chairman further, it’s important to focus on words. Another phrase (or variations of it) used more than once during the hearing: “Words have meaning”. True. Words do have meaning. Using “states rights” instead of “state sovereignty” is as important a distinction as the constantly incorrectly used “democracy” instead of “republic”. After incorrectly used words are repeated often enough, important distinctions are lost and entire generations of Americans think they live in a democracy – the form of government otherwise known as tyranny of the majority.

The State Sovereignty issue has to do with the proper roles of the Federal and State governments in our Republic and questions regarding what powers have been vested in each by the people, through the Constitution. Sovereignty resolutions, such as L.R. 292, are an effort to begin the conversation about how the roles of both the Federal and States have been nearly totally reversed. As noted by the Resolution’s sponsor, Senator Tony Fulton:

“There is always tension between Washington and the states,” he said. “In my opinion the federal government exercises too much authority over our lives as senators and the lives of our constituents.”

The Journal Star framed their article based on the premise of Senator Bill Avery. When arguments are framed on false pretenses, the whole discussion is skewed.

Nebraskans should be very concerned about a public servant who clearly has no real understanding of the proper meaning for basic words and phrases that define our form of government. Nebraskans should be alarmed that this same public servant was once a professor at the largest institution of higher learning in the state. Apparently he spent his career filling the heads of young people who took his classes with the same wrong-headed notions he laid bare in Friday’s Committee hearing through his questions.

Avery’s questions made clear that states don’t have “rights” anymore. For him, the “question” was settled at the time of the Civil War. He referred to the United States as a “nation state” and asked testifiers about possible actions to follow L.R. 292, referencing succession, Civil War, and slavery. He further noted that “federalism” won out in the debate about “states rights”.

Senator Avery doesn’t understand what federalism is. Our federalist republic, as originally intended at the writing of the Constitution, was designed to prevent power from being consolidated into one central governmental entity. The Framers’ study of history had taught them that the only sustainable republics were those that were small. Anticipating America’s growth into a large nation, power was balanced and divided. Balanced by the separation of powers – divided so as to encourage local control. Federal government was to have a brief list of powers – enumerated in Article I, Section 8. To prevent that power consolidation, those powers not enumerated were reserved to the States and to the people.

Bill Avery is an intelligent man, but a mind is a terrible thing to waste. If that mind were not involved in affecting public policy and therefore Nebraskans’ liberties, the misdirection of his intelligence would be no business of mine or anyone else’s. But since he is a Nebraska legislator, it is a problem that should concern us all.

Senator Avery seems quite confident in his position regarding sovereignty. The Journal Star article ends with a quote from him:

“What makes us strong is not having dual sovereignty.”

A question for Senator Avery: “If we no longer have dual sovereignty, why do we need you, Senator?”

Nebraska does not need a Senator who doesn’t see the necessity of the governmental body in which he serves. If Nebraska were not sovereign, we wouldn’t even need a legislative body.

Our legislature needs representatives in it who understand the proper role of government and know what duties they are elected to perform. One of Senator Avery’s jobs is to stand watch over the encroachment of the Federal government within Nebraska, to guard against it’s encroachment on my liberties and yours.

Senator Avery is up for re-election this year. He represents District 28. The filing deadline for candidates is March 1. We need to find out of there is anyone planning on running against him in the next few days, and if not, find a candidate committed to the Constitution and get them to file.

We have much work to do here in Nebraska to restore the proper division between Federal and State government and we need Senators in the Unicameral who are willing to do that work.

The Lincoln Journal Star, as the second largest newspaper in the state, situated in the State’s Capital, should return to reporting news, not taking positions. Apparently the reporter didn’t talk to or choose to use any quotes from any of the 150 citizens who showed up at the hearing or to quote from any of their testimony. The only quotes included in the article, outside of those from testimony, were from Bill Avery.

And that brings us full circle. In our efforts to educate and advocate, we need to comment upon articles in the Journal Star consistently, as many of us as possible. We need to call them on their biases and we need to respond to the comments made by the loud and active opponents of Constitutionalism. Please take a moment to visit their site and if you have the time, write a letter to the Editor.