The Yes on 744 is questioning the role of Oklahomans for Responsible Government in the campaign against State Question 744.
In a post on their Web site today, Yes on 744 questioned expenses incurred by OFRG, saying it’s clear the group is spending money to oppose the state question that seeks to set the per pupil expenditure for students in Oklahoma based on the regional average of per pupil spending in surrounding states.
State ethics laws require a committee spending money to campaign for a ballot measure to register and report expenditures if it’s more than $5,000.
Brian Downs, executive director of the non-profit group, says the group is aware of the rules and plans to comply, if necessary.
In an emailed statement, Downs said:
“OFRG is very mindful of our obligations to follow ethics rules and we believe that we are in full compliance. Our expenditures for State Question 744 have not exceeded $5,000 to date. If that threshold should be reached, we will follow all applicable laws. We also believe that it is unfortunate that the Yes on 744 campaign is spending so much time and money trying to smear our organization at a time when their message is not resonating with voters.”
OFRG is soliciting donations on the Stop State Question 744 website.
A copy of documents filed with the IRS for 2009 show that non-profit group is registered as a 501(c) (4) non-profit taxpayer advocacy organization. Under federal law, that type of non-profit organization can engage in lobbying and campaigning if it’s for the overall good, according to the IRS. Promoting overall good does not include, ”direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”
The organization, who has evaluated school district web sites in the past based on information available to the public, says in tax filings that it’s mission is to ”limit the growth of government by educating voters on policy issues, advocate for policy solutions and lobby for the principles of individual liberty and free markets, while working to build support for those policies among key constituencies.”
The group received $337,442 in 2009, the most recent figures on file. It’s IRS filings did not include the source of the income.