Conservative state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft honored by ACLU-OK

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft, R-Moore, was among a group of state legislators honored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma for work during the 2013 legislative session.

He has cooperated, in recent months, with ACLU leaders in areas of mutual concern. As it continues to evolve, such cooperation seems less a matter of “strange bedfellows” than an example of shared principles about limited government. 

Wesselhoft is one leader in a liberty-sensitive group of elected official. He has organized coalitions of diverse groups in opposition to U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war, among other bipartisan efforts. 

Wesselhoft’s bipartisan coalition of elected officials are scrutinizing drone technology and other “high tech” means for government to invade personal privacy.

“As a constitutional conservative, I am honored to be recognized by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma for defending the constitutional rights of Oklahomans. Although I am dedicated to conservative principles, I do never wish it said that I put partisan politics before my constituents,” Wesselhoft said in a statement to Oklahoma Watchdog.

He continued, “I greatly appreciate the work of the ACLU of Oklahoma to defend constitutional freedoms, even if I do not agree with all of their positions.”

The civil liberties group’s Oklahoma Freedom Award went to the conservative for his efforts pushing new laws to prohibit state government from using drones to monitor Oklahomans. His proposal would ban drone monitoring of individuals unless a court-approved warrant is obtained.

He is also pressing to require warrants before government can track personal cell phones in the Sooner State. 

State Chairman of the ACLU-OK is former state Rep. Ryan Kiesel, a Democrat, who has worked cooperatively with Wesselhoft on a few issues. Kiesel recently testified before an interim study panel Wesselhoft organized, saying: 

“Privacy is the right, absent cause, to be let alone from the government; the right to go to your doctor, your church, your friend’s home, a political rally, a bookstore, a gun range, or even in your own backyard without having your every move monitored, recorded, and analyzed by the government. Studies have demonstrated that when someone is being watched or they perceive themselves as being watched, they change their behavior.

“The prospect of drones overhead, especially when combined with other surveillance technologies from cell phone tracking to automatic license plate readers, traffic cameras, etc., will move us closer to an all encompassing surveillance state.”

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