Former newspaper publisher running for state House pledges support for open government

A former newspaper publisher with a history of fighting for the public's right to know has promised “to support legislation to strengthen” the state’s open government laws if elected to the House District 36 seat. In signing FOI Oklahoma’s Open Government Pledge for legislative candidates, Louise Red Corn also promised “to support at every opportunity” the state’s public policy that “the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power.”

Red Corn bought The Bigheart Times, a weekly in Pawhuska, in 2006. She sold it in February to Gatehouse Media, the parent company of the Pawhuska Journal-Capital.

In 2012, Red Corn was called to testify during a preliminary hearing that she was covering and then had to defend her right to be in the Osage County courtroom. She told the judge that defense attorney Gentner Drummond’s announcement of her as his witness was no more than a ploy to prevent the newspaper from covering the hearing. She hadn’t been subpoenaed by Drummond and hadn’t witnessed the alleged assault at issue in the hearing.

After Red Corn’s objection, Drummond and the prosecutor spent 10 minutes with the judge in his chambers. Drummond emerged to announce that he was withdrawing his request that witnesses be excluded from the courtroom and that he would “invite Ms. Red Corn to sit through these proceedings and take copious notes.”

That wasn't Red Corn's first run-in with Drummond, who is a GOP candidate for state attorney general on Tuesday's ballot.

In 2011, she questioned why an entire Osage County divorce case, including the names of the couple, lawyers and judge, had been closed to the public. Even the order sealing the case was closed. Drummond was the attorney who had sought the closure. The case file was opened after Red Corn raised hell over the secrecy.

Red Corn worked for the The Associated Press in Italy, Time Magazine, the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun-Herald, Detroit Free Press, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and the Tulsa World. She moved to Pawhuska in 2004. Her husband is Osage Nation Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn.

Louise Redcorn faces incumbent Sean Roberts of Hominy, Jared Lemmons of Pawhuska, J Paul Ganzel of Hominy and Jordan Lauffer of Skiatook in the Republican primary Tuesday. No Democrat filed for the seat. If no GOP candidate wins a 50+1 majority, the run-off election will be Aug. 28.

District 36 encompasses most of central Osage County and part of northern Tulsa County, including the majority of Pawhuska, a portion of Fairfax and all of Barnsdall, Wynona, Hominy, Skiatook and Avant.

FOI Oklahoma invites all candidates for state and local offices and legislative seats to sign its Open Government Pledge. Instructions and lists of signers can be found on FOI Oklahoma’s website.

Since FOI Oklahoma began the pledge in 2008, 199 candidates have signed, with 51 percent being elected at least once. In some races, all candidates for the office signed the pledge.

FOI Oklahoma began the Open Government Pledge as part of a national effort to spur public commitments to government transparency from candidates for president down to city council contests.


Joey Senat, Ph.D. Associate Professor OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications Mass Communication Law in Oklahoma

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, its board of directors or the commentator’s employer. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.