Thursday, October 17, 2019

OKGOP Chair and Vice Chair dispute financial woes, call for each other to resign


Oh boy. The OKGOP chairmanships since the 'golden age' of Gary Jones and Matt Pinnell have pretty much been Dysfunction Junction, but none have resulted in something quite like this.

To set the background, the Oklahoma Republican Party is having some major financial problems. This is a pretty well established fact. Fundraising has been lackluster to nonexistent, while spending has apparently taken the budget well into the red. Some of this is the result of longterm issues, while some of this is new.

Yesterday, Vice Chairman Mike Turner was featured in a News 9 interview where he slammed Chairman David McLain for the OKGOP's severe ongoing financial woes and called for his resignation. Specifically, Turner said:
"The chairman should step aside for the good of the party."
The News 9 story touts documents leaked to them by party insiders that show the OKGOP with more than $18,000 in outstanding bills and less than $75 in the daily operations account.

Then, Chairman McLain issued the following press release calling for the resignation of Vice Chairman Turner:
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OKLAHOMA REPUBLICAN PARTY 10/16/2019 

Regarding the news story released earlier today: I have in front of me, a complete spreadsheet of payables which clearly document the fact that at no time has our utility services been threatened.

As of today, I have documentation showing we have in excess of $20,000 in our account. Point being, Mr. Turner either deliberately provided false information OR did so out of ignorance of the facts. Either way, I am obliged to protect the integrity of the Oklahoma Republican Party and set the record straight.

Also, at my election on April 6th of this year, I received 70% of the party’s confidence from ALL segments of the Republican Party. Not just one segment. ALL.

The Central Committee has called for the immediate resignation of Mike Turner as the Vice Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party and will be giving an official call to order of the State Committee this week.

Respectfully,

David McLain, Chairman
Oklahoma Republican Party
Some sources are indicating that the RNC has bailed the OKGOP out with a $20,000 infusion of cash to help float through the current set of financial problems, although Chairman McLain has not made any comment to that point except in the above press release.

Transparency and openness on the OKGOP's financial situation would go a long way toward shedding light on its true state and charting a path forward. Hopefully we will see that happen quickly.

I sat on both the state and executive committees during the chairmanships of Jones and Pinnell. We had very clear budget reports and financial statements during their tenures, detailing exactly where every penny the state party had was going. Although I've not been on either committee for some years, I have seen financial statements from two of the last four chairs, and none had the transparency or detail given under Jones and Pinnell, and none of the chairman since have had the kind of fundraising success they had.

Some of that is a result of a massive shift in how politics and campaigns work today. The political parties are less important than they used to be, and outside groups play a much bigger role in elections. Social media has also made it easier to access volunteers without having to route through existing party infrastructure.

That said, it certainly seems to me, from my outside perspective, that the state GOP has suffered from poor leadership for some time, and the effect has been devastating to the party's finances. I'm appalled that the party of fiscal responsibility would find itself operating in debt to such a degree as it has during much of the past decade.

The OKGOP has some major hurdles ahead of it if it wants to successfully retake the 5th Congressional District, stave off legislative losses in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, and continue making progress on taking more county offices across the state. Those goals may have to happen independently of the state party.

0 comments: