Lobbyists give more than $51K in contributions in race for governor — mostly to one candidate

Lobbyists are free to donate money to political campaigns with few restrictions.

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Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb talks to voters at a Cleveland County GOP meeting in Norman. BRIANNA BAILEY/The Frontier
Registered lobbyists have given more than $51,000 in campaign contributions to Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb receiving the bulk of the money.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Lamb has received $39,450 in campaign donations from registered lobbyists in Oklahoma, according to The Frontier’s review of campaign disclosure filings.

Many lobbyists donated the maximum allowable $2,700 to Lamb, who is in a close fundraising race with Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt and former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.

Lamb has received cash and in-kind contributions from 28 lobbyists and a political action committee affiliated with an Oklahoma City lobbying firm.

In response to The Frontier’s findings, Lamb’s campaign manager Keith Beall said voters should instead look at Lamb’s campaign platform.

“Voters are interested in policy positions and a proven background,” Beall said. “This is what our campaign is focused on.”

In-kind contribution to Lamb from lobbyists include $929 in expenses donated by the Fried Kilpatrick Guinn Political Action Committee for a Lamb campaign event in May 2017. The limited political action committee is affiliated with the lobbying firm FKG Consulting. Its contributors and officers include partners in FKG, according to ethics commission filings.

FKG’s clients include Chesapeake Energy Corp.; Cherokee Nation Businesses; Amazon.com and the private prison operator CoreCivic, according to Ethics Commission filings. FKG Partner Tammie Kilpatrick also independently donated $2,700 to Lamb’s campaign in June 2017.

FKG did not respond to questions about its political action committee or its contributions to Lamb.

Behind Lamb, Democratic frontrunner Drew Edmondson received the second most campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Edmondson has accepted $5,950 in contributions from five lobbyists, including representatives for the energy trade group the

Wind Coalition and General Electric in advance of Tuesday’s primary.

“Drew has a long history of standing up to the special interests at the state capitol so it’s no surprise that lobbyists aren’t the people funding his campaign,” Michael Clingman, Edmondson’s campaign manager said in an email. “Instead, our contributors are everyday Oklahomans from all across the state, including many teachers. Drew is committed to being a governor for all Oklahomans, not just those with deep pockets and corporate influence.”

Gifts to state officials from lobbyists are subject to limits and disclosure rules set by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. But lobbyists are still free to donate money to political campaigns with few restrictions.

In Oklahoma, there’s a criminal statute that bans lobbyist and lobbyist principals from making campaign contributions to state legislators and legislative candidates while the Legislature is in regular session and five days after it ends. The crime is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 and one year in jail.

However, the law makes no mention of restricting campaign contributions to Lieutenant Governor, who also serves as President of the Oklahoma Senate.

Ashley Kemp, executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission said she and her staff started asking lobbyists and candidates about a year ago to disclose the job title of all lobbyist campaign contributors as on all political contributions.

“What we had noticed was a lot of contributors putting their job title down as ‘consultant’ but not ‘lobbyist,’” Kemp said.

However, many registered lobbyists The Frontier found on campaign disclosure forms listed their job titles as “consultant” “attorney” or “public affairs” on campaign disclosure forms.

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Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey grew up in Idaho. Oklahoma is her adopted home. Bailey has covered issues ranging from Oklahoma's strained child welfare system to the slow decline of Oklahoma's rural hospitals. She has walked all the way across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to south via Western Avenue and once via the old U.S. Route 66. Her hobbies are baking and crashing meetings she isn't invited to attend. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Oklahoma. Email her at brianna@readfrontier.com
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