Ever since reports surfaced that the Oklahoma Ethics Commission has engaged in an investigation of Republican Party campaign contributions during the 2004 election, Oklahoma Speaker of the House Lance Cargill and House Republican leadership have come under fire from inside and outside of the party. Tension came to the forefront at the House Republican caucus retreat in Ardmore Oct. 16.
In an unusual move, a sitting speaker of the House faced an opponent from a fellow caucus member. Rep. John Wright, R-Broken Arrow, announced he was going to seek the position a week before Republicans headed to their retreat. Wright emphasized he was not trying oust Cargill because of the ethics investigation, but rather wanted to lead a new way of governing.
He re-emphasized that point when he emerged with Cargill after the vote in Ardmore to address reporters outside the meeting.
"We had a very full and frank discussion in the caucus," Cargill told reporters.
But Cargill's remarks irked at least one representative:
Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.
"Since typically members are not supposed to divulge information discussed in caucus, I would not normally comment," Reynolds said. "But since the speaker chose to state that we had thoroughly discussed the ethics issues, I feel I should mention he took a point of personal privilege and no questions were allowed. Which was very disappointing to many members of the caucus."
Sources said Cargill, using an analogy of his church and drawing a diamond-shaped diagram on a chalkboard, explained how money for one church division sometimes ends up in another, but in the end it's all the same thing. Therefore, nothing illegal or unethical happened.
According to sources, Cargill also said, "The press hates everything we stand for and will distort anything." "Scott Cooper