Governor Frank Keating should apply the same compassionate conservatism he reserves for presidential hopeful George Bush Jr. in the state of Oklahoma, according to a veteran state legislator.
Senator Frank Shurden noted that the Governor's recent comments regarding Bush and whether he had used cocaine are "quite liberal" when compared to the policies he has pursued in Oklahoma.
For example, on ABC television's "This Week" this Sunday, Governor Keating downplayed any alleged drug use in the Texas governor's past, saying "I don't care what somebody did in college, as long as he didn't kill somebody."
Senator Shurden said that comment is inconsistent with the no-tolerance stance Governor Keating has adopted in Oklahoma.
"If Governor Keating thinks it's okay for George Bush to possibly use cocaine as a young person, then why is he taking such a hard line stance on Oklahoma kids who've made mistakes with illegal drugs? If he wants to be a compassionate conservative and forgive Mr. Bush's alleged transgressions, that's his business, but he should at least have the political courage to be a consistent compassionate conservative and apply the same approach in Oklahoma. Anything less is hypocritical," said Senator Shurden.
The Henryetta lawmaker noted that when the Governor Keating had a chance to show his compassion in Oklahoma's prison overcrowding crisis, he opted for political expediency instead. By refusing to implement the so-called prison cap law in July, the Governor made it impossible for non-violent offenders, many who were serving terms for drug offenses, to receive "cap credits" to reduce their sentences.
Instead, Governor Keating urged his corrections board appointees to approve a $6 million to $15 million contract to buy additional beds from the private prison industry, denying the non-violent offenders any relief on their sentences.
"Instead of using his George Bush-brand of compassion in Oklahoma, he opted to spend $6 million in taxpayer money with his friends in the private prison industry. He could have given some non-violent offenders a second chance at life and saved the taxpayers millions of dollars in the process --dollars that are desperately needed for education, highways, veterans services, economic development and a dozen other important areas. Instead, he chose an alternative that he thought was easier to defend politically," said Senator Shurden.
The Henryetta lawmaker challenged Governor Keating to treat Oklahoma citizens the same way he treats the Texas governor, saying they deserve the same kind of compassion he has shown Bush.
"I guess I'd like Governor Keating to be a consistent compassionate conservative, applying his compassion to everyone, not just his friends who are running for president. I know not many drug abusers in Oklahoma are going to be able to offer our Governor a job in Washington, DC, but that shouldn't matter to a man of compassion. He should treat everyone equally, regardless of their lot in life," said Senator Shurden.