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Oklahoma senator’s failure to report expenditures draws attention

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond testifies on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024
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Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond testifies on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s attorney general in an unusual move publicly warned a state senator to correct his campaign expenditure report or face possible consequences.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Gentner Drummond on Monday said that the move — less than a week before the Republican primary election — was not an attempt to bolster the campaign of a candidate trying to unseat Sen. Cody Rogers.

He said that Drummond’s letters to Rogers and the state Ethics Commission had nothing to do with Drummond’s chief of staff’s former ties to a campaign consultant representing Rogers’ opponent.

“The Attorney General’s actions were prompted by complaints about a recent campaign filing by Sen. Rogers that clearly fails to report contributions and expenditures as required by law,” said Phil Bacharach, a spokesman, on Monday. “The Attorney General would have taken the same action regardless of who the candidate is or who his or her consultant is.”

In a Friday letter to Rogers, R-Tulsa, Drummond alleged that Rogers has failed to report his campaign expenditures in his effort to be reelected to Senate District 37. The letter was posted on Drummond’s social media account on Friday. The primary election is Tuesday.

“I am deeply concerned that you have failed to file any information whatsoever regarding your campaign expenditures,” Drummond wrote. “This failure has deprived Oklahoma citizens of their right to know how your campaign is expending lawful receipts.

“While a small handful of omissions might be considered inadvertent, I am aware of the multiple expenditures bearing your campaign’s disclaimer. These expenditures include but are not limited to mail pieces, yard signs and printed materials.”

Drummond wrote that violations of Oklahoma Ethics rules may result in significant penalties and criminal prosecution.

Rogers faces Republican Aaron Reinhardt, of Jenks, in Tuesday’s primary. The winner faces independent Andrew Nutter, of Tulsa, in the general election.

Reinhardt has paid campaign consultant Campaign Advocacy Management Professionals in excess of $110,000, according to Ethics Commission records.

Well-known political consultant Fount Holland is a founding partner of the company. Holland is also a former business partner of Trebor Worthen, Drummond’s chief of staff.

“I had no idea it (the letter) was going out,” Holland said. “None.”

Holland said he did not request Drummond’s intervention.

Holland said his company also worked for Rogers in 2023 and was paid $3,750.

Matt Parker, the chief operating officer of Campaign Advocacy Management Professionals, worked on Drummond’s campaign in 2020.

Parker said he did not ask Drummond to intervene. He said Rogers is in “blatant” violation of ethics rules for not reporting expenditures.

Campaign Advocacy Management Professionals will get a $10,000 bonus if Reinhardt wins the seat, Parker said.

“It is standard that all of our contracts have a victory bonus component,” Parker said.

Rogers did not respond to a request for comment.

In a separate Friday letter to Lee Anne Bruce Boone, Oklahoma Ethics Commission executive director, Drummond said the oversight appears to be a violation of ethics rules.

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission does not accept complaints alleging rules violations during an election cycle. The blackout period is from the date the candidate formally declares and files for office to the end of the general election.

But Drummond, in the letter, said that the rule allows for a member or staff member to accept a complaint.

“Accordingly, I respectfully request that the Commission initiate an inquiry,” Drummond wrote. “Alternatively, it might be helpful for Commission staff to contact the senator about the discrepancy. I trust your discretion in how best to resolve this matter.”

A spokesperson for the Ethics Commission said the agency could not comment.

Reinhardt’s pre-primary report indicates he has raised $165,769 and spent $125,578.

Rogers’ pre-primary report indicates he loaned his campaign $250,000 and has no expenditures.

This article is from nonprofit news outlet Oklahoma Voice.