Both sitting and newly elected council members have forcefully criticized some of the tactics used in the recent election, in which independent expenditure groups spent more than half a million dollars across the four races.
Two groups, Better Local Government PAC and Committee for Oklahoma City Momentum, supported some candidates independently of their campaigns. Using nonprofit groups as middlemen, the indirect flow of money from individual donors to the registered group helped conceal the identity of the individual donors.
Thus far, two campaign filing periods have passed, one in February just before the March 1 election, and another in late March prior to the April 5 Ward 2 runoff election.
The next filing period for campaign donation and expenditure reports runs from May 5 through Sunday, May 15, which will give a better idea of the total amount spent on the entire election effort.
As many as 16 PACs that participated in the election may have accepted or given more than the $200 threshold set by state law and did not file paperwork with the city to participate in the election.
Oklahoma Gazette sent a letter May 6 to representatives for each of the 16 groups, stating they appear to have not filed the necessary campaign reports with the city, and asked for an explanation if they did not plan to file.
“We have researched the filings at the state and municipal levels, public pronouncements and media coverage and have found references to your organization that indicate that it may be obligated to make the required filings regarding the 2011 Oklahoma City municipal election,” the Gazette letter stated. “We will be reviewing the campaign finance reports filed with the city clerk in regard to the May 15, 2011, filing date. If you do not plan to file such reports, we would greatly appreciate your explanation as to why you are not doing so.”
Eleven of these 16 groups are PACs currently registered with the state. However, under the Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, a committee participating in a municipal election in the state must file registration paperwork with the city clerk.
Those PACs include:
Bank of Oklahoma PAC, Cox Communications Oklahoma PAC Fund, Fraternal Order of Police 123 PAC, OGE Energy Corporation Employees PAC, OKC Firefighters Association PAC Fund, Oklahoma Municipal Contracts Association PAC, Oklahoma State AFL-CIO Political Action Fund, Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades PAC, Plumbers & Pipefitters LU 344 Voluntary PAC, Realtors PAC of Oklahoma and Southwest Laborers District Council PAC.
The five organizations that did register with the city to participate were Chesapeake’s PAC, the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades PAC, Committee for Oklahoma City Momentum, Better Local Government PAC and the Oklahoma Tea Party PAC.
were also sent to A Voice for Responsible Government (which funded the
Better Local Government PAC), A Better Oklahoma City Inc. (which funded
Momentum), Forward Oklahoma IV (a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber group
that in turn funded A Better Oklahoma City Inc.), the Greater Oklahoma
City Chamber and the OKC Retired Firefighters Association, all of which
apparently did not file with either the state or city.