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Middling money


This year’s city council races saw far fewer campaign dollars spent than in 2010.

Clifton Adcock March 6th, 2013

Despite a crowded field in one Oklahoma City Council race and three candidates in another, overall campaign spending and fundraising in this year’s municipal elections is significantly below that of two years ago.

Gary Marrs

The Ward 7 city council race included seven candidates vying for the seat currently held by OKC attorney Ronald “Skip” Kelly, and three candidates battled for the Ward 1 seat held by retired fire chief Gary Marrs.

Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee and Ward 4 Councilman Pete White ran unopposed.

The results of the March 5 election were determined after press time. A runoff election is scheduled for April 2.

According to records filed by the state Ethics Commission, spending this year was on pace to fall far below the $1.3 million spent in 2010. As of Feb. 18, the deadline for the first round of expenditure and contribution reports, candidates had spent only $29,022 in the two competitive races.

The biggest campaign spender was Marrs, with a total of $16,009. He was followed by challengers James Greiner ($3,740) and Carolyn Sims ($2,913) during that period, according to Ethics Commission records.

Marrs easily had the largest campaign war chest of the field, with $61,400, followed by Greiner at $7,647 and Sims at $5,301.

In Ward 7, four of the seven candidates submitted contribution and expenditure reports.

Kelly raised significantly more money than his challengers — $28,654 — but was outspent by two candidates prior to the Feb. 18 deadline. The incumbent’s campaign spent $1,795, while John Pettis Jr. spent $2,478 and Lillie R. Buckner spent $2,087.

A fourth candidate who submitted a report, John Bilbury III, showed no expenditures for the period, despite raising $2,066.

Municipal candidates who receive or spend more than $200 are required to submit reports to the Ethics Commission. Ward 7 candidates Ben Robinson, Randon Gibson and Star Young did not file contribution/expenditure reports.

Some candidates’ reports included contributions directly from non-limited liability company corporations. Under the Oklahoma Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, which governs municipal elections, corporations and labor organizations cannot donate directly to candidates, unless the contribution is made through a political action committee set up by the group.

By contrast, single-member limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships may donate to campaigns.

Ethics Commission records show Kelly received a $2,000 donation from Rainbo Service Company, which is listed as a domestic for-profit business corporation by the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office.

Kelly said if there are any issues with donations, his campaign will work with the Ethics Commission to straighten them out.

Filings show that Bilbury accepted $100 from Ready to Rent company, listed by the secretary of state’s office as a domestic for-profit corporation.

Bilbury, who is new to running for office, said he was unaware of the rule until contacted by Oklahoma Gazette and would return the funds.

 
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