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Attack ad from dark money group paints Attorney General John O'Connor as tough on oil and gas

State of Oklahoma
Attorney General John O'Connor

Updated May 25 at 1:20 p.m.

A dark money group billing itself as a social welfare organization is running an attack website and advertisements comparing U.S. President Joe Biden to Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor.

One ad says O’Connor “mirrors Biden’s every move” by attacking oil and gas employers. It says O’Connor threatened to sue small producers with “high-priced Dallas lawyers” after a bad February 2021 winter storm.

O’Connor did threaten to sue multiple oil and gas companies for selling natural gas at inflated prices during the storm. He later abandoned those threats, and was even chastised by state Supreme Court justices for not more vigorously representing ratepayers.

The advertisements, all of which have tens of thousands of views on Facebook, are from Advancing Freedom Incorporated. The group’s website has a phone number leading to an automated message. Calls weren't returned.

According to its website, the nonprofit is based in Oklahoma City, but it also apparently has ties to Arizona. Newspaper The Arizona Republicreports Advancing Freedom ran political ads during the 2019 Phoenix mayoral race.

2019 IRS forms for Advancing Freedom show a phone number for Sagac Public Affairs, a marketing company in Oklahoma City. The company declined comment.

Correction: This article previously stated O'Connor was chastised by the state Supreme Court as a body, but two justices held the opinion that O'Connor neglected his duties to ratepayers.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.