Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Who is behind 'Oklahomans for a Conservative Future'?

The Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan (though left-leaning) transparency/openness organization, has tackled the issue of who is behind Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, the new group that is throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars behind T.W. Shannon's Senate campaign.

An Oklahoma City construction executive and two state lobbyists with ties to a federal political action committee may have found the latest wrinkle in spending big on elections without revealing the source of their funds: registering as a for-profit corporation. Oklahomans for a Conservative Future Inc., a freshly-minted business in the Sooner State, has already spent $300,000 supporting the underdog campaign of T.W. Shannon in the Republican special primary this June. Because it's not organized as a political committee, the company won't have to disclose the source of its funds to the Federal Election Commission. And because it's not a 501(c)4 social welfare nonprofit, it doesn't face the limits on how much of its income it can spend on politics that tax law puts on groups like Crossroads GPS or the League of Conservation Voters.
They continue:
Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center tells Sunlight in an e-mail that avoiding political disclosure is not as simple as registering a for-profit corporation: "Regardless of the corporate form or tax status this group chooses, the federal law definition of “political committee” applies the same way—(1) has the group made expenditures and/or received contributions exceeding $1,000 in a calendar year?  And (2) does it have as its major purpose influencing federal elections?  If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then Oklahomans for a Conservative Future Inc. is a “political committee” under federal law and must register with the FEC and disclose its contributors." As of publication, OCF has not registered as a political committee with the FEC. It is not clear what type of business the corporation — which lists its address at an Oklahoma City UPS Store — engages in. 
According to paperwork filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State, the three individuals behind OCF are Xavier Neira (vice-president of Manhattan Construction), Chad Alexander (longtime political consultant/lobbyist), and Stephanie Milligan (PAC administrative director and lobbyist).

Neira, Alexander, and Milligan have (or have had) ties to T.W. Shannon's campaign consultant, Fount Holland. In fact, Alexander and Holland have been partners in the firm Majority Designs.

That certainly puts an interesting twist into things.


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