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Posted 10:50AM on April 21 2010
Drew Edmondson just gained a powerful ally in his campaign for Governor. His campaign today announced the formation of Veterans for Edmondson, a group of veterans aimed at helping elect Edmondson as Oklahoma's next Governor.

Veterans for Edmondson is being led by Matt Stiner of Tulsa. Stiner is a Corporal in the U.S. Marines and has done one tour of duty in Iraq. He has been honored for his service having received the Combat Action Ribbon, and he has been nationally recognized for his work to organize and implement Tulsa's Veterans' Treatment Court. The Treatment Court was the third such program in the country and serves hundreds of veterans each month.

"As a veteran himself, Drew Edmondson understands the challenges facing our service men and women and their families," Stiner said. "Hundreds of Oklahoma veterans have heard his vision for our state and have expressed their support for his campaign. I am proud to support Drew Edmondson, and I look forward to the day when the General becomes the Governor."

Edmondson enlisted in the United State Navy in 1968. He served one tour of duty in Vietnam, including one year spent at Tan Son Nhut Air Base just outside of Saigon. For his service, he was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal. He was honorably discharged in 1972. He is currently a member of the American Legion and the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Edmondson recently told the Tulsa Veterans' Initiative he would work to expand treatment courts, like the one available in Tulsa, to veterans statewide.

"We have a moral obligation to provide the very best service we can for the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed as members of the United States military," Edmondson said. "The wounds of war are not just physical, and they are not limited to the veteran alone. We should be doing more to address the physical, emotional and educational needs of our military service men and women and their families."

Veterans interested in joining "Veterans for Edmondson" can do so by contacting Stiner at (918) 269-8637 or by email at matt@edmondson2010.com.
Posted 10:43AM on April 16 2010
Yesterday's $57 million deposit pushes a state fund created to fight tobacco addiction and promote health and wellness past the half-billion dollar mark. Attorney General Drew Edmondson and State Treasurer Scott Meacham said Oklahoma received more than $77.1 million yesterday from the tobacco industry, 75 percent of which went directly into the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

Meacham's office confirmed receipt of a wire transfer in the amount of $77,138,626.91 from the trustee of the tobacco settlement funds. More than $57.8 million of the payment was deposited in Oklahoma's TSET fund, which now has a balance of almost $558 million.

"Public health was at the heart of our lawsuit against big tobacco," Edmondson said, "and the tobacco trust will ensure that the bulk of the monies generated from the settlement are focused on this important issue. The trust will also provide a perpetual source of public health funding which is crucial in hard economic times."

TSET was created by a voter-approved amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution in 2000, which specifies that only the earnings from the trust fund may be spent on programs to improve the health and well-being of Oklahomans. To date, the fund has generated more than $63 million in earnings, including $18 million last year alone.

"These funds were immediately transferred to income-generating investments so more money can be earned for use improving the health of Oklahomans," Meacham said. "The people of Oklahoma will benefit from this money as it is used to help them live longer, healthier lives."

This year's payment included the third allocation of Oklahoma's share of the agreement's strategic contribution funds. These funds were awarded to the state for the strategic contribution Edmondson, his office and local counsel made to the prosecution of the lawsuit and will be added to Oklahoma's annual tobacco payment for ten years. Oklahoma should receive about $26.8 million in strategic contribution funds each year.

In August 1996 Oklahoma became the 14th state to file a lawsuit against the tobacco companies, asking for restraints against the industry and monetary damages for state funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses. Oklahoma sought about $1 billion in damages.

In November 1998, Edmondson and seven other attorneys general announced they had, on behalf of the states, negotiated a historic settlement with big tobacco. The settlement imposed sweeping changes in tobacco advertising, banned the tobacco companies from targeting children, allocated funding for tobacco education efforts and provided the states annual payments based on the number of cigarettes sold in the country. The total of payments over 25 years was projected to be in excess of $206 billion, and payments will continue as long as cigarettes are sold.

Oklahoma's share of the settlement is estimated to be $2.03 billion over 25 years. An additional $268 million was awarded to the state for the strategic contribution Edmondson, his office and local counsel made to the prosecution of the lawsuit. Attorney fees were paid by the tobacco industry and did not come from Oklahoma's share of the settlement.

Posted 08:45AM on April 13 2010
The state's Multicounty Grand Jury adjourned from its April session today after issuing one sealed indictment, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.

The indictment names one person on two counts and will be unsealed in Kay County District Court. A date for unsealing the indictment has not been set.

Edmondson's office administers the grand jury which next convenes May 17.

Posted 16:36PM on April 08 2010
Attorney General Drew Edmondson today said as Governor, he would work to make Veterans' treatment courts like the one in Tulsa available statewide.

Edmondson made the pronouncement while speaking at a meeting of the Veterans' Initiative of Tulsa, which was hosted today by the Tulsa Community Service Council.

"We have a moral obligation to provide the very best service we can for the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed as members of the United States military," Edmondson said. "The wounds of war are not just physical, and they are not limited to the veteran alone. We should be doing more to address the physical, emotional and educational needs of our military service men and women and their families."

Edmondson is a Navy veteran, having served one tour of duty in Vietnam. Drew's father, Ed Edmondson, also served in the Navy, as did his mother, June, and his brother, Jim Edmondson.

"I know first-hand that the challenges faced by our service men and women do not end when they return to life on American soil," Edmondson said. "Too many times, veterans are faced with drug, alcohol or mental health problems. The problems escalate and they ultimately find themselves in jail when what they really need is treatment. This is no way to honor our servicemen. We have to do better."

The veterans' court in Tulsa was instituted in 2008. At that time, it was only the third veterans treatment court in United States and the first in the mid-west and Oklahoma.

Edmondson said veterans' courts would provide long-term financial savings for the state.

"Statistics show us that 80 to 90 percent of all incarcerated inmates have an underlying substance abuse or mental health problem," Edmondson said. "It's time that we, as a state, commit to treating the underlying problems that lead to criminal activity. We would save money and lives in the long-run. Our veterans deserve no less."
Posted 11:14AM on April 02 2010
Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Major County District Attorney Hollis Thorp yesterday filed an emergency application seeking a judicial review in the case of four children whose adoptive parents were previously convicted of child abuse.

Edmondson and Thorp are questioning a Major County judge's decision regarding the adoptive parents' custody of the children. The attorney general and district attorney are requesting a stay of the judge's custody order and the assignment of a different judge to review the issue.

The case involves four children adopted by Ardee and Penny Tyler who were convicted of abusing a fifth adopted child. The parents voluntarily terminated parental rights to that child.

"I am troubled by this decision," Edmondson said. "Terminating parental rights to one child does not guarantee the safety and well being of the other siblings. The order releasing the children from Department of Human Services' custody was issued despite objections from DA Thorp's office and an attorney for the children.
"Our office has extremely limited authority to question a judge's decisions, but the Oklahoma Children's Code does provide some opening in some cases regarding child custody," Edmondson said. "Our authority stems from a change in the law that came about with the Ryan Luke law."

Early in his tenure as attorney general, Edmondson successfully advocated for that authority after the 1995 death of 2-year-old Ryan Luke in Pittsburg County.

As set out by statute, Edmondson and Thorp asked the court to hold a hearing on the matter within five judicial days.

Posted 14:41PM on March 25 2010
“Congresswoman Fallin’s actions on the steps of the U.S. Capitol this week show disrespect for the office she holds and disregard for the potential consequences of her actions,” Edmondson said. “I hope as the debate continues, she will remember that there are those who would do our leaders harm, and that they may hear her words as a call to action.”
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