OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – KFOR has received several complaints about court clerk Rick Warren campaigning on county property by driving a truck to work covered in campaign signs. However, Rick Warren does not consider that campaigning.
This week, KFOR has received several complaints about Oklahoma County court clerk Rick Warren because his truck that he drives to work is covered in campaign signs that read “Re-elect Rick Warren.”
Some believe it’s an ethics violation because of this section in the county employee handbook:
“No employee (not including Elected Officials) shall participate in partisan politics while on duty. This means the devoting of time or labor during usual office hours towards the campaign of any candidate for office or for the nomination to any office.
Use of Oklahoma County property, funds or facilities for campaigning is prohibited.”
KFOR asked some county residents if they consider the truck, parked inside the court annex garage, “campaigning.”
“When you see a campaign sign, you’re still going to think about what they’re standing for,” Chevon Dill said.
“It’s like advertising, saying, ‘I’m running for this office.’ So, it’s like advertising,” another woman said.
Because the signs are on his personal truck, Warren does not consider this campaigning.
He sent KFOR the following statement on Thursday:
“The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right of free speech to every citizen. That right extends to government employees and elected officials as well. Oklahoma law is consistent and protects the right of all citizens to exercise their rights.
I made a promise when I won the first five elections for this position that I would never do anything to embarrass the county or the taxpayers who have honored me by placing their trust in me. This is nothing but cancel culture at its worst, trying to make an issue where none exists. I am hopeful that very soon our country will begin to come together move beyond this nonsense.
Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes states “No public employee or official shall retaliate against any employee for exercising his or her rights …” To do so would be to infringe upon the rights of the over 350,000 hardworking government employees in Oklahoma.
I’m sad that someone has put together a coordinated effort to mislead a trusted news organization and respected reporter with what is not only intellectually dishonest, but also ethically and morally bankrupt. All I know to do is to pray for them because they are clearly suffering from the misguided notion that I and the thousands of other elected officials across this great nation don’t have the same right to free speech that they do.
It’s disheartening to know there are people out there so desperate for attention that they choose to exercise their right to free speech by spewing lies and wasting the time of a lot of good people.”RICK WARREN