The last few weeks of a political campaign can be cash cows for certain lucky candidates. And waiting until the last few weeks is especially convenient for donors who want to remain anonymous...at least until the election is over.
Tulsa City Council candidates, along with the Save Our Tulsa group and others, raked in a little more than $92,000 in the final weeks before the Nov. 8 citywide elections.
UTW reported on the first round of campaign finance reports, which candidates were required to file in late October. Contributions made after Oct. 24 weren't made public until more than a month after the elections. These reports show donations and expenditures occurring through Dec. 8.
Batesline blogger and Tulsa political analysis guru Michael Bates said he's not surprised at the last-minute donations because donors want to avoid becoming an issue for their favored candidates. "Oklahoma's ethics laws make it very easy to do that," Bates said.
"In federal races, you have to report last-minute contributions," he said. Not so in Tulsa or in Oklahoma.
Bates posted an appeal for campaign contribution transparency on his blog, asking all city council candidates to disclose their last-minute contributions voluntarily. "Most of the grassroots candidates, who weren't likely to get much last-minute money, were cooperative," he said.
Of all the primary candidates, 13 responded to Bates' call. Only two of the recently elected councilors -- District 2 City Councilor Jeannie Cue and District 4 City Councilor Blake Ewing -- provided their last-minute contributions.
They offered up the facts about their campaign cash (or lack thereof) after the first round of C-1 campaign finance reports were due but before the general election.
Not all Tulsans frequent Batesline, though most Green Country political insiders check the long-running wonky blog for updated, detailed news and opinion. What were our dear city councilors hiding?
As it turns out, many of them accepted checks from real estate and home builders. In short, pro-development special interests.
In District 1, Democrat Jack Henderson received a $1,100 check from Realtors PAC of Oklahoma. He collected a total of $15,054 for his entire campaign.
No new campaign reports were filed for District 2 candidates, including new District 2 City Councilor Jeannie Cue (R).
In the final weeks of the campaign, District 3 City Councilor David Patrick (D) raked in $5,300 in donations from four PACs, including Realtors PAC of Oklahoma, Home Builders PAC, TulsaBizPac and ABC PAC.
Patrick accepted a total of $28,925 for the entire campaign cycle, while his rival, incumbent Roscoe Turner (R) only raised $900 during the final reporting period (for a total of $8,700). None of Turner's contributors donated more than $50.
In District 4, Blake Ewing (R) reported $12,250 in contributions in the final weeks of his campaign. Big name donor Frederic Dorwart, the BOK Center's attorney, gave Ewing $1,250. Ewing also accepted $1,100 from the Realtors PAC of Oklahoma.
Ewing's campaign coffers -- used to win the most hotly contested seat -- topped out at $44,665 for the election cycle.
District 5 City Councilor Karen Gilbert (R) took in $6,675 in the final weeks, with a total campaign war chest of $25,245 across both reporting periods. TulsaBizPac awarded Gilbert $5,000.
She also accepted $250 from Dorwart, $500 from the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa and $1,000 from Tulsa business and real estate owner Robert Price, among others.
District 6 winner, "Skip" Steele (R), took the least amount of cash for a successful city council run. The new councilor reported $4,300 in the final weeks of his campaign, for a total of $11,840 across the election cycle. Steele accepted $2,500 from TulsaBizPac and $1,000 from the local firefighters' union.
In District 7, new councilor Thomas Mansur (R) reported $5,100 in contributions for the final weeks of his campaign, for a total of $21,425. Mansur accepted more than $2,500 from a trio of real estate-related PACs: $1,000 from the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, $1,100 from Tulsa Realtors Association and $500 from the Association of Builders and Contractors.
District 8 winner Phil Lakin (R) reported a mere $6,550 (out of a total $82,090) for the last weeks of his campaign. He accepted donations from Tulsa Builders Association of Greater Tulsa ($1,000) and Realtors PAC of Oklahoma ($1,100). He was also given a $5,000 check from TulsaBizPac.
Lakin's Democratic competitor Bill Suliburk raised a healthy total of $25,519 during his run for the District 8 seat. He took in $5,350 of that in the last few weeks of his campaign, mostly from family members.
Re-elected District 9 City Councilor G.T. Bynum turned his final campaign finance report in after the deadline passed. He raised $8,850 for the period, including $1,000 from Tulsa Build PAC, $1,100 from Realtors PAC of Oklahoma and $2,500 from TulsaBizPac.
What does this mean for T-Towners?
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