Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Frontier traces dark money in CD2 race

Journalist Reese Gorman at The Frontier has a great article out tracing some of the "dark money" that has flooded into the 2nd Congressional District race this year: Super PACs are spending big on GOP candidates in Oklahoma’s open U.S. House and Senate races.

By the way, Oklahoma does have some good journalists doing yeoman's work when it comes to following political and governmental news. I have a Twitter list here of most of them that you should follow.

Super PACs, some backed by dark money, are injecting millions of dollars into Oklahoma’s competitive U.S. House and Senate races this year. Some are even outspending the candidates themselves. 

The two main super PACs shooting money into Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District race, School Freedom Fund and Fund for a Working Congress, have spent a combined $3.2 million since the June 28 primary in advance of the Aug. 23 runoff. In comparison, the two Republican candidates Rep. Avery Frix and former state Sen. Josh Brecheen, have only spent a combined $823,657.

For every dollar Brecheen’s campaign has spent, School Freedom Fund has spent about $7.97 in his support or opposing Frix, according to a Frontier analysis of Federal Election Commission data through Aug. 11. For every dollar the Frix campaign has spent, Fund for a Working Congress has spent about $2.32 in his support or opposing Breechen.

It should be noted here how much money the two campaigns have raised. Through August 16th, Frix raised about $752,000, of which $283,000 was his own personal money. By contrast, Brecheen (who is not independently wealthy) has raised around $310,000, of which $751.50 is his own.

So yeah, the outside money for Brecheen has been higher percentage-wise when compared to the candidate's spending, but that's primarily because Frix is the big-donor, big-money, establishment candidate (Frix has been receiving a lot of anti-Trump, pro-Biden/Clinton money lately. Hmmm...).

Back to the article from The Frontier:

Since the primary, Fund for a Working Congress has spent $1.3 million on mailers, TV ads, door hangers and more supporting Frix and opposing Brecheen.

Both groups have funded attack ads with claims that both candidates describe as “half-truths.” 

In mailers, Fund for a Working Congress accused Brecheen of wanting to end the electoral college saying that if he “had his way Hillary Clinton would be President.”

“A half-truth is a whole lie,” Brecheen said. “They’re taking a vote out of context.”

School Freedom Fund has spent $1.8 million since the primary supporting Brecheen and opposing Frix. The group is involved in congressional races across the country and is an extension of the anti-tax Club For Growth. The School Freedom Fund is funded entirely by Pennsylvania billionaire Jeff Yass, federal spending records show.
School Freedom Fund’s affiliate, Club For Growth, was a major backer of the late U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who Brecheen worked for as a field staffer. He also adheres to Coburn’s staunch conservative ideology and is a former Club For Growth fellow.

School Freedom Fund generally gets lumped in as a dark money group, but we actually do know where the funding for it has come from. In contrast...

Fund for a Working Congress, the pro-Frix Super PAC, is registered in Virginia and has also supported candidates for Congress in Ohio, Georgia and other states. The super PAC is mostly funded by the dark money groups Sooner State Leadership Fund and Prosperity Alliance. Other donors include American Jobs and Growth PAC and Defend US PAC, two groups also mostly funded by Prosperity Alliance.

As a 501c4 non-profit, Prosperity Alliance is not required to disclose its donors. Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog group, filed an IRS complaint against the group in 2019, claiming the non-profit “violated its tax-exempt status by making politics its primary activity and also failed to properly disclose its political spending on its tax forms.”

The watchdog group filed the complaint after Prosperity Alliance reported to the IRS that it wasn’t involved in political operations even though federal election spending records showed otherwise, said Matthew Corley, an investigator with Citizens for Responsible Ethics.

Per IRS laws, a nonprofit can make political contributions and participate in politics as long as it is not the group’s sole focus. 

“They denied to the IRS that they were engaged in political activity when they clearly were making hundreds of 1,000s of dollars in Super PAC contributions that were then used to influence elections in state elections,” Corley said. 

Since the complaint, the group has reported its political activity to the IRS, which has not been the majority of the group’s spending, Corley said.

There is a tremendous tangled web with Prosperity Alliance, Sooner State Leadership Fund (which is the dark money group spending $10 MILLION against Governor Kevin Stitt), and supporting moderate establishment candidates against conservative grassroots candidates. Notice, in almost every single case where dark money groups get involved in GOP primaries, it's the establistment moderates who have the big-money, secret-donor groups supporting them, while the grassroots conservatives have groups that disclose their donors.

Click here to read the full article at The Frontier.


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