‘Dark Money’ Group Cited
The leader of the Oklahoma Democratic Party recently asked two prosecuting attorneys to investigate a group that has sent what she said were misleading mailers against two Democrats in contested legislative races and used “dark money” to do so.
Alicia Andrews, chairman of the state party, requested the district attorneys for Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties investigate the Oklahoma MAGA Coalition for its failure to register with the state before spending more than $1,000 on electioneering efforts, a violation of campaign finance laws.
The group, whose name is a nod to President Donald J. Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” has targeted State Rep. Chelsey Branham (Dem., The Village), who represents State House District 83), and Jo Anna Dossett, the Democratic candidate for a seat in the State Senate District 35 race in Tulsa.
“I realize that political attacks are normal,” Mrs. Andrews said. “What is not normal is ‘dark money’ that is not registered anywhere.
“Where is the accountability?”
Political committees are required to register with the Secretary of State’s Office and report expenditures to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
Such registrations can shed some light on who is coordinating political efforts. Although still required to register with the state, “dark money” groups don’t have to reveal their donors.
Two mailers sent out try to tie State Rep. Branham and Mrs. Dossett to “Antifa,” a term the president has used to refer to leftist militants.
Short for anti-fascists, “Antifa” is not a single organization, but an all-encompassing term for activists who often appear at protests to resist white supremacists.
“When it comes to public safety, leftist Chelsey Branham stands with ‘Antifa!’ ” said one mailer.
Behind the text is a photo of a group of protesters clad mostly in black garb. The photo does not appear to have been taken in Oklahoma.
Mailers attacking State Rep. Branham also insinuate Oklahoma has seen an increase in crime due to her vote in favor of GOP legislation that would change how judges set bail for non-violent offenders. But the legislation from 2019 never became law.
Mrs. Andrews said the mailers are blatantly false.
“They’re spending a lot of money to spread misinformation,” she said. “The ones I have been able to get my hands on … have information that is not grounded in the truth about either candidate.”
The mailers list a Tulsa mailbox as the MAGA coalition’s address.
State Rep. Branham faces Republican Eric Roberts in the general election. Mrs. Dossett is competing against Republican Cheryl Baber for an open State Senate seat.