An Oklahoma Watch review of campaign data found that sitting lawmakers and legislative candidates’ campaigns have given more than $746,000 to other legislative candidates since early 2016. The practice has raised questions about whether donations are a form of influence buying and should be limited or banned.
Political spending by secretive groups that are allowed to hide their donors have already spent what is likely a record amount this year to influence Oklahoma political races. The spending is expected to surge in the weeks leading up to the November election.
Unlike the federal government and nearly three dozen states, Oklahoma does not require statewide candidates to reveal even the most basic details of their personal finances before Election Day. That means voters will choose the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and other officeholders with scant information about their finances and potential conflicts of interest.
Oklahoma Watch has filed a request with all statewide candidates asking them to voluntarily disclose financial information that is typically released by federal candidates and state-level candidates in other states.
The daughter of a state House leader who pushed a bill to protect the right to sentence juveniles to life without parole is a district attorney who seeks such a sentence in a Custer County case. The bill, however, was killed by an appeals court ruling and a requested veto.
A small group of unelected citizens, all appointed by Republican state leaders, will soon be exercising significant powers to decide how the state’s top agencies spend their funding and which services they should provide. Will it have a political agenda or be independent?