If you’re a politics junkie, you’ve probably heard of MoveOn.org and the Club for Growth. While those two groups couldn’t be further from each other in ideology, they are both structured the same way under federal tax laws.
Now, two other “independent” campaign groups–known as 527s after the section of IRS code that regulates them–are making their presence felt in Oklahoma politics, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican State Leadership Committee. We had a short story in today’s The Oklahoman.
Because of space limitations, a couple of key details got left on the cutting-room floor. So, to keep up the movie metaphor, here’s the director’s cut:
By Paul Monies
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-state donations are being pumped into the races of
Democrats are outspending Republicans in reports filed by state affiliates of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican State Leadership Committee. Both are tax-exempt political groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money for political activity under federal tax laws.
Republicans are spending the money on last-minute TV and radio ads, and mailings on behalf of state Senate candidates in competitive races. That includes more than $380,000 this month on behalf of Senate candidates in
“It’s one of the most competitive states in legislative elections this year,” Carrie Cantrell, spokeswoman for the Republican State Leadership Committee, said of the
Its Democratic counterpart has spent more than $500,000 since August on campaign research, polling and TV advertising, according to reports filed with the state Ethics Commission. The reports did not detail which
“The Oklahoma Senate is one of two chambers in the country where things are tied,” said Matt Compton with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “
The national groups are organized under the same federal tax laws as Moveon.org and 2004’s Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. They are known as 527 groups after the section of Internal Revenue Service code that regulates them.
The majority of individual donors to the state affiliates of the Republican and Democratic legislative groups are from out-of-state residents, according to disclosure forms.
The money the state affiliates spend can go to broadcast advertising, print ads and mailings, Hughes said. But it can’t go to live or automated telephone calls or e-mail.
Corporate, tribal and union money contributed to the 527 groups remains in separate accounts and isn’t used for
According to donor information filed with the Internal Revenue Service, a number of
Among the large Oklahoma donors to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee are Tulsa’s Anchor Stone Co. ($25,000); First United Bank & Trust Co. in Durant ($15,000); Cherokee Nation ($50,000); Choctaw Nation ($50,000); Chickasaw Nation ($25,000); and the Oklahoma AFL-CIO union ($10,000).
To check out the state Ethics Commission reports for the Oklahoma affiliates of the RSLC and DLCC, you can go to the Public Disclosure page.
To see who’s donating to the national 527s, you can search the IRS political disclosure site. You can also get a little more explanation on how 527s are affecting other campaigns at the Center for Responsive Politics.
How does a trip to the Galapagos Islands sound to you? The group of islands off the coast of Ecuador is one of the world’s unique ecosystems, famous for its massive tortoises and the place where Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution.
Maybe that’s why it was hard to pass up for U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne. The TV show Inside Edition featured the trip by Lucas and four other congressional members in one of its segments this week.
My colleague Chris Casteel of The Oklahoman‘s Washington bureau blogs about the trip and Lucas’ response to the Inside Edition story.
But you can also check out where other members of Congress — and their staffers — travel to at the Web site of LegiStorm. The Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets site also includes information on Congressional travel.
My colleague Tony Thornton had an interesting story in yesterday’s paper about one of the district judges in Rogers County closing his courtroom to the public.
Apparently, a sign has been up for the last few years advising the public that only defendants and their attorneys are allowed in the courtroom. But it’s not just a sign. Deputies have told people to leave the courtroom if they weren’t involved in a case, claiming “space constraints” in the small courtroom. So much for open trials.
The law allows judges to close their courtrooms only in certain types of cases or circumstances, including adoption, juvenile, mental health or guardianship cases. But for everything else, the standard is an open courtroom.
Funnily enough, when alerted to the sign by a reporter, the presiding judge in that district had it removed.
For more on secret justice and closed records across the country, check out the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
The New York Times has an interesting story today about the number of fake donors who show up in presidential campaign finance data.
The newspaper’s analysis (done by former Oklahoman Database Editor Griff Palmer), found that more than 3,000 donations to Democrat Barack Obama had fictitious donor information of some kind, including names that were gibberish and people listing their occupation and employer as “Loving/You.”
An analysis of campaign finance records by The New York Times this week found nearly 3,000 donations to Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, from more than a dozen people with apparently fictitious donor information. The contributions represent a tiny fraction of the record $450 million Mr. Obama has raised. But the questionable donations — some donors were listed simply with gibberish for their names — raise concerns about whether the Obama campaign is adequately vetting its unprecedented flood of donors.
It is unclear why someone making a political donation would want to enter a false name. Some perhaps did it for privacy reasons. Another, more ominous possibility, of course, is fraud, perhaps in order to donate beyond the maximum limits.
There is no evidence that questionable contributions amount to anything more than a small portion of Mr. Obama’s fund-raising haul. The Times’s analysis, conducted over a few days and looking for obvious anomalies, like names or addresses with all consonants, identified about $40,000 in suspect contributions that had not been refunded by the campaign as of its last filing with the Federal Election Commission, in September.
Here in Oklahoma, I frequently see data entry errors in the state campaign reports filed with the Ethics Commission. While we try to clean the data as best we can when we analyze it for the newspaper or online, it goes back to one of the mantras of database administrators and analysts: “garbage in, garbage out.”