Friday, June 03, 2022

Sen. Jake Merrick: "Does Dark Money Rule in Oklahoma?"

Answer: unfortunately, yes. The power-hungry corporate and political establishment in this state thrives on the secrecy, ambiguity, and deniability of "dark money". It's how they win campaigns now, putting in squishy moderates and ousting staunchly conservative legislators.

Freshman GOP State Senator Jake Merrick (one of the most conservative members in the Legislature) poses this question in a recent column, after outlandishly false attacks on him triggered by his vote against the "school choice" bill, SB 1647, earlier this year. As I've posted previously, the homeschool community in particular had great concerns with the legislation, and some legislative conservatives concurred. 

Perhaps of note, Merrick is one of the few members of the legislature that is an abortion abolitionist, believing that abortion should totally and completely abolished in all forms, not merely regulated... extra reason for the political establishment to hate him.

Does Dark Money Rule in Oklahoma?
written by State Sen. Jake Merrick (R-Yukon)

What is "Dark Money"?

Dark money refers to political spending by nonprofit organizations like 501(c)4, 501(c)5 and 501(c)6 groups that are not required to disclose their donors. Such organizations can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions. Because of this, their donors can spend funds to influence elections, particularly when used by “independent expenditure” groups—generally characterized as Super PACs—that are legally permitted to receive and spend an unlimited amount of contributions. The kicker is that voters are oblivious to the source of the funds and the motivation behind the messaging that is being propagated either on behalf of a candidate or in opposition to a candidate.  

Is Dark Money in Oklahoma?

You better believe it! And it's very prevalent in both parties.  

Now the thing you have to remember is that it is illegal for the nonprofit to work with or even communicate with the candidates. They must work entirely independent of the candidates they are supporting (or attacking). 

I, personally, have been both supported and attacked by the nonprofits, and I will tell you that it is a very surreal experience! In my last special election campaign for state Senate, over $100K was spent to defend and promote me! I knew nothing about this, and although I was happy to see someone aggressively working to help me behind the scenes, I was also very nervous about who was... behind the scenes. Was this legal? Did I need to report something? Do I want to be associated with them? These were just a sample of some questions that flooded my mind.  

Of course this year I experienced the flip side. I was attacked after voting against the "voucher bill" (SB1647) along with several other Senators who voted against it. This mailer was sent out blatantly smearing me and the other Senators who dared to represent our districts and vote our convictions. It brazenly connected me to Biden and accused me of supporting his WOKE ideology including CRT and transgenderism. (They did not mention that I co-authored the bill to forbid CRT in Oklahoma schools and I authored the bill to forbid transgender students from using the opposite sex bathrooms.)  

Recent Dark Money Attacks on Several Members of the Senate:

Blatant Lies and Twisting of the Truth - Yet No Accountability

So is Dark Money Good for Oklahoma Elections?

As with most things, if it's benefiting us, we love it (or at least we don't condemn it.). If it's hurting us, we despise it and are usually very vocal about it.  Very few are willing to look at subjects objectively and decide "for" or "against" based solely on principle - especially in politics!  

Here's the question I ask: In what ways are we fostering a system that is moving further and further AWAY from the will of the people? In what ways are our elections (aka, the voice of the people) being dominated by big money organizations with very little accountability? In what ways are we breeding and incentivizing more politicians to be straight up lazy and depend on big money to simply flood mailboxes, TVs, computers and phones with ads to sway voters instead of demanding candidates actually shake hands and engage in conversations with constituents?  

Yes, I have benefited from Dark Money. And I have been attacked by Dark Money.  And I believe it's time we put an end to Dark Money in Oklahoma.  If I can't win an election honestly with hard work and actual connection with the people, I don't want it.  Because (as I've found out), with every bit of un-requested assistance comes un-requested strings. Organizations usually don't just help out of the goodness of their hearts.  It's because they want to call in a favor when needed.  If they helped you once, they can help you out again... or they could... you know... NOT help you out. Understand? 

I fully expect more Dark Money will fund more smears to attack my name, my character, and my voting record. You should be expecting a few emails, mailers, phone calls, and texts letting you know how dangerous and deceptive and liberal I really am.  What you won't get is the names of the people who are saying it.  They will stay in the shadows.  

I am able and willing to fully explain and defend every vote I cast.  If I made a mistake, I will own that too.  But I want to encourage you not to be blind.  Don't swallow everything you're served.  If you have a question call me (405) 513-0664. Email me:  But don't assume.  Our state is depending on it.  

Sen. Merrick was first elected to the state Senate in a special election in 2021 to represent Senate District 22, which includes parts of Canadian and Oklahoma counties.

The Yukon Republican received his bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Baptist University and a Master’s of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to serving in the Senate, Merrick served as the pastor of Home Groups at Living Rivers Millennial Church in Tulsa for four years, then as co-pastor of the Tabernacle of Praise in Edmond for four years as well. While serving at the Tabernacle of Praise, he was also a professor of theology and philosophy at Southwestern Christian University. 

During his time serving the church, Merrick also owned and operated several small businesses. Merrick and his wife, Nicole, have two daughters. You can visit his reelection campaign website here.


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