State GOP officails criticize Treat, Lankford in weekend social media posts, meeting

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Several of Oklahoma's Republican leaders, it seems, have forgotten the party’s 11th Commandment.

Written in the 1960s by Gaylord Parkinson, then-state chairman of the California Republican Party, the 11th Commandment was a call to Republicans who had problems with other Republicans to make sure “that (the) grievance is not to be bared publicly.”

In 1966, then-candidate Ronald Reagan made the commandment famous during his campaign for governor. Over the weekend, many Oklahoma Republicans skipped that commandment all together.

On Saturday, the state party’s official social media sites posted a message that encouraged readers to respond to a survey. That survey, titled “Does your State Senator work for you? Or do they work for the Senate Pro Tempore?” was a response to Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat’s announcement that he would adjourn a special session set to begin Monday.

State party officials critical of Treat's decision on special session

The state GOP’s posting criticized Treat for issuing a media statement saying the Oklahoma Senate would not be voting on tax cuts. “Pro Tempore Treat seems to think that you work for him and that you don’t get a voice through your elected state Senator. They need to hear your voice now and let them know you want to lower taxes,” the posting said.

Late last week, Treat said he would move quickly to adjourn the special session called by Gov. Kevin Stitt. “Nothing has changed in the Senate’s position since the last special session was called in October,” Treat’s statement said. “The appropriate time for discussion on budget and taxes is during regular session that starts a week after the governor’s special session call. Since there is no agreement, special session — a week prior to regular session — is just political theater and a waste of taxpayer dollars."

The state GOP’s posting continued, alleging the Senate’s Republican leadership cut a deal with Democrats to “immediately end the special session so that no taxes could be lowered.”

Saturday, Treat said he wasn’t aware of the post. “I don’t govern based on social media post,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the chairman or the vice-chairman or who it was. But I can tell you every decision I make and every statement I make that takes a caucus position, I have sought an abundant amount of input from members of the Legislature.”

Treat said he “walked very confident” with the statements he made. “It’s reflective of what the caucus desires," he said. "I try to focus on being productive and not wasting my time.”

Lankford criticized for work on bipartisan border security bill

At the same time the party criticized Treat, another group of state Republicans targeted U.S. Sen. James Langford because of Lankford’s work on a bipartisan border security package. That group said it had passed a resolution condemning Lankford for his “open border deal.”

“The Oklahoma GOP strongly condemns Senator James Lankford, if and to the extent that he continues these actions and calls upon him to cease and desist jeopardizing the security and liberty of the people of Oklahoma and these United States,” the resolution said. “Until Senator Lankford ceases from these actions the Oklahoma Republican Party will cease all support for him.”

While state party officials appear to have issues with Lankford, Republican Congressman Tom Cole came to Lankford’s defense. “Lankford is doing Heroic work (on border security),” Cole told The Oklahoman. “I really mean that. He’s catching so much flack unfairly in my opinion.”

Another posting on X ― formerly Twitter ― by Republican attorney A.J. Ferate said an extreme faction of the state GOP held a meeting "without providing an official call to all members of the state committee, including me, to attack Senator James Lankford."

Any votes taken at that meeting, Ferate wrote, "was not legitimate and definitely does not represent the voice of all Oklahoma Republicans."

While the pushback inside Republican circles is unusual, it’s not unexpected. With supermajorities in both the Oklahoma House and Senate, public criticism of Republicans by other Republicans has grown over the past few year.

Still, for lawmakers such as Treat, criticism is part of the job ― even if it does violate the GOP’s 11th Commandment.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it and the last time I’ll think about it,” Treat said.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma Republicans broke the 11th Commandment last weekend