A polling station at the Oklahoma County Election Commission offices. Credit: Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

In Oklahoma’s primary and runoff elections, dark-money groups were active in the state’s legislative, statewide and congressional races. Among the big players in spending on Oklahoma races through August:

>Foundation for Economic Prosperity, which spent $438,872 supporting Cornett’s unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, in addition to running the ad attacking Edmonson after the runoff. Tax filings show its directors include Trey and Jeri Richardson, both of whom are listed on the management team of Oklahoma City’s Sagac Public Affairs, and Joel Riter, who has a background in Republican politics in Ohio.

>American Wind Action, a so-called social welfare, or 501(c)(4), nonprofit that spent about $200,000 on legislative races. The group is based out of Washington, D.C., and supports the wind industry.

>Catalyst Oklahoma, Inc., a 501(c)(4) group that spent about $168,750 on races for the Legislature, superintendent of public instruction and labor commissioner. Charles Sublett of Tulsa, a member of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ board of trustees, is listed as the president of the group. According to the group’s tax returns, its mission is to promote “pro-growth public polices” based on “free-market principles.”

>The Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund, a PAC affiliated with the American Federation For Children, a 501(c)(4) group that spent about $124,000 on state legislative races. The national school-choice group was once led by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The Conservative Leadership Alliance, a 501(c)(4) group that spent $100,000 supporting Andy Coleman in his unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination in Oklahoma’s U.S. House District 1 race. The newly formed Virginia-based group has spent money on races around the country promoting the tax cuts signed by President Donald Trump in 2017 and opposing efforts to raise taxes. The group lists its treasurer as Marc Himmelstein, a former lobbyist with an Ohio-based electric company called First Energy.

>The Conservative Alliance Political Action Committee, which is funded solely by a 501(c)(4) called the Prosperity Alliance and spent $25,000 on state legislative races. The group’s treasurer is listed as Chris Marston, who runs Election CFO, a campaign finance compliance firm based out of Alexandria, Virginia.

>The State Chamber of Oklahoma, a 501(c)(6) trade group that spent about $22,000 on state legislative races. The group represents businesses across the state.

>Energy Engaged, Inc., a 501(c)(4) group that spent $22,0000 on state legislative races. Its directors include Chad Warmington, president of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. IRS filings state Energy Engaged entered into a “shared services and cost agreement” with the association in 2016.


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Trevor Brown

Trevor Brown has been an Oklahoma Watch reporter since 2016. He covers politics, elections, health policies and government accountability issues. Call or text him at (630) 301-0589 or email at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org....