“Knowledge is the key to freedom; transparency is the enemy of corruption and tyranny, and an informed public will make intelligent decisions.”
That paragraph was excerpted from an editorial in a small North Carolina newspaper last year, but here four days before an important
election it applies in spades to Rogers County.
Our democratic process is under assault. Not by terrorists, but by a secretive government investigation that has absolutely nothing to do with national security.
A few select officials in law enforcement, government and the judicial system apparently are brokering deals behind closed doors — as you read this — and it smacks of federal manipulation of the outcome of the District 3 County Commission race.
A four-month federal investigation of this one county office has yet to yield a public record that could or would clarify the nature, extent or liability for any alleged wrongdoing.
While rumors run rampant about a “sealed indictment” by an federal grand jury, which may, or may not, implicate one or more county officials or employees, the general public remains clueless about who is being charged and for what.
That’s not only A problem, it is THE problem.
Those who know the truth remain silent. Those entrusted with “protecting” the people and enforcing the law continue to hide behind “on-going investigations,” “sealed indictments” and “off the record” conversations.
Sources, who insist on remaining anonymous, indicate there’s little chance anything will break in time to clear the air for Tuesday’s primary elections.
Some of those “close to the investigation” even think it could be as long as after the general election before the public learns why and what was found when FBI agents visited a county warehouse in March.
This is a travesty, highly detrimental to the best interests of the people who live in District 3.
How right can it be to allow the voting public to take time to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s primary election with nothing more than rampant rumors and innuendoes to sway and blind their decision-making process?
The people have a right to, and deserve access to full unadulterated knowledge about every candidate and his or her qualifications.
The rumor leaked to this newspaper is that the FBI has a “slam dunk” case against two of the candidates, and that one, with immunity, is willing to testify against the other.
If the FBI knows this much information, why wait until after the election(s) to file charges?
For what it’s worth, here’s all we know about the screwed up mess in District 3:
Three democrats, including incumbent Randy Baldridge, are seeking the office. Ken Froese, an Inola area farmer and rancher, and Bruce Long, the district road foreman and brother of the Republican candidate for District One commissioner, are the other two candidates.
Although totally unofficial, information “leaked” to this newspaper suggests that both Baldridge and Long have been under investigation by the FBI, and that at least one of the two will be indicted. The other then would be the so-called “co-conspirator,” and would be given immunity in exchange for his testimony.
That sort of coercion may be accepted in American jurisprudence, but when the cultivation of a source leads to what amounts to a free pass for the source, it is the truth that suffers.
Baldridge, ending his first term, has proven to be a capable and popular commissioner, and had been considered a shoo-in for re-election. Because of his dedication, his work, and the cooperative spirit he brought to the board, we endorse his re-election.
Now, we suppose, Tuesday’s vote all depends on the latest rumor the voters have heard.