Hofmeister Legal Fund Reports Its First Donations

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Four donors contributed a total of just over $75,000 to fund the legal expenses of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who along with four others is charged with conspiracy.

The donors were made public in a report the Joy Hofmeister Defense Fund made Sunday to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, as required by law. Daniel Christner, chief operating officer at John Christner Trucking in Sapulpa; oilman George Kaiser, chairman of BOK Financial Corp.; and Stacy Schusterman, chair of Samson Energy Co., each contributed $25,000. H.E. Rainbolt, chairman emeritus of BancFirst’s board, gave $500.

Christner also serves as treasurer of the fund, a special-function committee that is the first such entity to focus on raising money for an elected official’s legal entanglements. Prior to 2015, officials were permitted to spend campaign funds on legal fees but now must form a separate fund.

The fund spent $24,000 with the Riggs Abney law firm in Oklahoma City, according to the report.

Hofmeister was charged in November with two felony counts of accepting illegal contributions to her 2014 campaign, and two counts of conspiracy.

Hofmeister denies wrongdoing.

Also charged with two felony conspiracy counts are Fount Holland, co-founder of political consulting firm A.H. Strategies, which managed Hofmeister’s campaign; Lela Odom, then-director of the Oklahoma Education Association; Steven Crawford, former executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration; and Stephanie Milligan, who managed Oklahomans for Public School Excellence, a social welfare nonprofit advocacy group that opposed former superintendent Janet Barresi.

In a separate report by Hofmeister’s re-election committee, Friends of Joy Hofmeister 2018, spending reported by the group indicates she worked with A.H. Strategies up until around the time the criminal charges were filed. The committee paid A.H. Strategies $1,777.53 on Feb. 3, the report states, for an “August-November 2016 fundraising and event fee.” Hofmeister’s attorney, Gary Wood, said the re-election committee no longer has a contract with the firm.