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Tea Party leader charged with blackmail

OKLAHOMA CITY, April 10 (UPI) -- Al Gerhart, co-founder of Oklahoma's Tea Party, was charged with felony blackmail over an email he admits sending a state senator.

Gerhart, 54, of the Sooner Tea Party, sent a threatening email in March to Sen. Cliff Branan, promising to "dig into your past" and "make you a laughing stock" unless the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, which Branan chairs, passed a bill dealing with a United Nations development plan.

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Branan turned the email over to police, the (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman reported Wednesday.

Gerhart admitted at a news conference last week he sent the message, and he was arrested Tuesday evening on the blackmail charge and for violating the state's computer crime act, both felonies, the newspaper said.

Branan's committee never took up House Bill 1412, legislation addressing a plan regarding the United Nations' Agenda 21 sustainable development plan.

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