Dirty money

Twenty-three Republican state representatives came forward last week in support of U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Warr Acres, for his bid for governor, many of whom were funded by Istook in their election campaigns in 2004.

Istook in 2004 exclusively funded Republican candidates from his First Freedoms Fund, a political action committee he started with seed money from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Did Istook use the First Freedoms Fund to buy loyalty of Oklahoma Republican representatives?

“People endorse Ernest because they believe he is a conservative who has the vision and values to take the lead in Oklahoma,” said Chip Englander, Istook’s campaign manager. “Since the Democrats have been in control of Oklahoma, mediocrity has been the standard of excellence. We are at a crossroads of opportunity and we need a governor who can set us on the course for greatness in the 21st century.”

Istook lauded the successes of the legislators, who are among the first Republicans to gain a majority in the state House in 80 years. Istook said he hopes to have more endorse him for governor, according to the release.

According to figures compiled by the watchdog group Followthemoney.org, Istook’s political action committee, First Freedoms Fund PAC, funneled thousands into Oklahoma elections, including into more than a third of those coming forward in support of Istook’s bid for governor.

Nine representatives, all Republican, in the pro-Istook faction got funding from the First Freedoms Fund, records show, including:

Thad Balkman, Norman, $1,000; Odilia Dank, Oklahoma City, $500; Rex Duncan, Sand Springs, $5,000; Shane Jett, Tecumseh, $5,000; Sally Kern, Oklahoma City, $500; Steve Martin, Bartlesville, $2,000; Ken Miller, Edmond, $500; Mike Thompson, Oklahoma City, $1,000; and Paul Wesselhoft, Moore, $5,000.

Others, such as Tad Jones, R-Claremore, got money, in his case, $4,000, from Istook’s fund, but has not come forward in support of Istook last week.

The Oklahoma Gazette

Shake a leg

On his Web site for the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson is touting a protein shake he claims helps him do things most 76-year-old men, heck, most men, period, could not dream of doing.

“Did you know that Pat Robertson can leg-press 2,000 pounds!” the Web site asks.

Can leg-lift machines even accommodate 2,000 pounds?

Whatever the answer to that question, the site says Robertson attributes his remarkable vitality to an “age-defying protein shake,” inviting consumers to register for a free booklet.

Robertson has licensed the shake for national distribution by General Nutrition Corp., a Pittsburgh-based health-food chain, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reported.

He has been promoting the shake for years, but he has decided to switch it from a philanthropic campaign to a profit-making venture.

And that has at least one evangelical watchdog group up in arms.

Ole Anthony, the president of the Trinity Foundation based in Dallas, said Robertson improperly used the tax-exempt, nonprofit status of his ministry to create a market for the shake.

“It wouldn’t exist unless it was promoted on the donor-paid-for airtime,” Anthony told the newspaper.

Anthony is right, even if the transgression appears mild for someone who once called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

San Antonio Express-News