Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Dark Money: something stinks in House District 21 runoff

There's some funny business going on in the House District 21 runoff down in Bryan and Marshall counties. A dark money group operated by the Choctaw Nation is funneling huge amounts of last-minute money -- all on behalf of an individual who is not on the ballot. It appears that this may be an attempt to circumvent ethics rules on behalf of one of the runoff candidates.

State Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant) is exiting office due to term limits, having served 12 years in the State House representing HD21. He ran for the 2nd Congressional District seat, placing 10th out of 14 candidates.

Roberts is not on the runoff ballot. He's certainly completely ineligible to be on any HD21 ballot this year due to term limits.

Yet, take a look at this:

What exactly am I looking at, you may ask? These are legally required Independent Expenditure reports filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. When non-candidate committees (such as Political Action Committees, or PACs) run ads, or send mailers, or do some sort of electioneering on behalf of a candidate, or in opposition to a candidate, they must file these reports so that citizens can see who is spending money on whom.

Pushmataha PAC is a political action committee operated by the Choctaw Nation. It was funded by $425,000 from the Choctaw Nation, and with $55,500 by the brand-new Oklahoma Foundation for Unity and Leadership (ugh, these fake dark money groups and their names). $50,000 of these funds were directed to the federal-level Pushmataha super PAC, which supported State Rep. Dustin Roberts (keep these names straight) in the 2nd Congressional District primary.

During the Oklahoma House District 21 primary, it seems that the PAC spent $40,000 in support of HD21 candidate Dustin Reid, who is a Choctaw Nation employee. 

In the primary spending reports, Amber Integrated was sometimes listed as the vendor through which the spending went, while sometimes Axiom Strategies was listed instead (their reports are somewhat confusing due to being amended multiple times to apparently change the recorded vendors).

It should be noted that Axiom Strategies, a major player on the national political consulting stage, is in some hot water for possibly violating state laws prohibiting absentee ballot harvesting in a Tulsa County Commission race

Back to the images of the reports I posted above. Pushmataha PAC is spending, as we speak, $57,000 in House District 21, through Axiom Strategies (who they used in the HD21 primary just weeks ago) -- for Dustin Roberts, who is not on the ballot?

Something stinks like a rotten fish here.

I have an inquiry with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to check on the legality of all this. 

In the meantime, allow me to encourage voters in HD21 to reject this political stench and dark money, and vote for Cody Maynard.


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