A tea party leader in Oklahoma has been charged with two felonies after threatening to turn a Republican state senator into a "laughing stock" if he did not push a bill to block the United Nations sustainability plan known as Agenda 21.
Local prosecutors charged Al Gerhart, the head of the Sooner Tea Party, with blackmail and violating Oklahoma's Computer Crimes Act following an email he sent to state Sen. Cliff Branan (R-Oklahoma City), in which he also threatened to start investigating Branan's family and friends, Newsok.com reports. Gerhart wanted Branan, the chairman of the state Senate Energy and Environment Committee, to hold a hearing on the anti-Agenda 21 bill.
Gerhart later claimed that Branan didn't hold the hearing because he didn't want details of an extramarital affair coming out. Branan responded that he hasn't had an affair, and Gerhart admitted that he had no proof of any affair.
"Get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it," Gerhart wrote in the email. "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 [sic] family, your associates and once we start on you there will be no end to it. This is a promise."
Gerhart did not respond to a Newsok.com request for comment.
The tea party leader's email and subsequent accusations about Branan's sex life ended up killing the Agenda 21 bill in Oklahoma. State Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) pulled the legislation last week "out of respect," he said, for Branan and his family. The bill had sought to ban local governments from implementing parts of Agenda 21, which was adopted by the U.N. in 1992 but has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate and is not law in the United States.
This is not the first time Gerhart has come to blows with other conservatives. He formed the Sooner Tea Party in 2009 after a falling-out with the Oklahoma City Tea Party. In 2010, the Gerhart-led Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance proposed a state militia to defend Oklahoma from the federal government, which led the Koch brothers' group Americans for Prosperity to distance itself from Gerhart.
The Oklahoma incident is also the latest in a series of bizarre events involving Agenda 21. Opposition to the U.N. plan has been a rallying point for conservative state lawmakers in many states -- led by the John Birch Society -- who have said that the plan could destroy private property rights and force people to live in walkable communities. Last October, Republican state senators in Georgia heard from a birther activist, who had already been expelled by the tea party, that President Barack Obama and the U.N. are using "mind-control" to implement Agenda 21. Earlier this week, the Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives passed an Agenda 21 ban following a debate that centered on whether the state should take steps to block an alien invasion, along with accusations that the U.N. is bribing local officials with free lawnmowers.