When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case, Democrats were among the loudest critics. That ruling made it illegal to limit independent corporate spending in elections, declaring the activity to be constitutionally protected free speech.
In Oklahoma, the House Democratic caucus responded with a call for campaign finance reform this year, decrying in a release “unfettered corporate spending in campaigns” that was a threat to the “integrity of the political process.” State Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, tried to make it illegal for companies that get support from a state economic development fund to make independent political expenditures in state elections for up to six years.
So imagine our surprise when five of the eight state legislative candidates found to have accepted donations directly from corporations this year were Democrats, including some incumbents.
Granted, carelessness rather than orchestrated lawbreaking likely explains why those campaigns failed to immediately return money when filing donation reports and finding a check came from a company account rather than a personal checking account. Still, it’s ironic that the political party decrying corporate influence in elections the loudest has a disproportionate number of candidates accepting apparently illegal campaign donations from business interests.
That’s also true of at least one of the Republicans recipients identified — state Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, who previously denounced business groups’ funding of an informational campaign regarding judges on the retention ballot.
Apparently, some opponents of corporate influence only see a problem when a business entity supports the other guy.