Commentary: Billionaires Head Roth's Corporation Commission Campaign

Article excerpt

Not one, not two, not three but four Oklahoma billionaire families are acting as "Honorary Co-Chairs" for Jim Roth's campaign for Oklahoma corporation commissioner. It is unique if not unprecedented.

A Democrat, Roth was appointed to the commission last year when Commissioner Denise Bode, a Republican, resigned to head an energy organization in Washington, D.C.

State law requires him to seek election to the final two years of the term for which he was appointed.

According to Roth's press release and Web site last month, those heading up his campaign, in the titular honorary capacity are Clayton I. and Louise Bennett, Oklahoma City, Harold and Sue Ann Hamm, Enid, George and Cookie Kaiser, Tulsa, and Aubrey and Katie McClendon, Oklahoma City.

That is a lot of sizzle for a secondary statewide race. Despite their financial eminence and status, there is no reason they should not act in this capacity if they so choose by exercising the right of all citizens to back the candidate of their choice.

While some if not all of them are heavily involved in oil and gas production in Oklahoma, which is regulated by the commission, it is not unusual for people in the industry to be involved in commission races. Many candidates seek it.

Law limits the amount they can contribute, but their money- raising ability is sure to be convincing and extensive. Three fundraising receptions to help kick off Roth's campaign have been or will be held. One was slated for the Hamms' home in Enid on May 15th. The Kaisers were to follow with one at their home on May 29, while the Bennetts and McClendons scheduled one for June 26 at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club.

Their efforts should give Roth a solid financial boost. It is likely the attendees will be able to write checks in substantial amounts.

In a letter to friends, Bennett and McClendon wrote "Moving Oklahoma forward by making it a better place to work and live is a mutual goal. Jim Roth shares our vision of a pro-growth Oklahoma. As the incumbent he is a leader that demonstrates the vision, integrity and experience necessary for the responsibility of this position. …