Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: 'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' in Political Fundraising

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: 'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' in Political Fundraising

Article excerpt

Revelations of apparent campaign contributions being received by Gov. Brad Henry, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, and state Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan, all Democrats, from so-called "straw donors," are causing some skepticism about campaign financing ethics.

Straw donors are individuals who give to political campaigns with another person's money. It is illegal.

Allegations of this activity were made by the FBI in court documents it filed relating to further violations by former state Sen. Gene Stipe, D-McAlester, who earlier pleaded guilty in federal court to participating in such a scheme.

Apparently all three beneficiaries were victims of the plan. They denied knowing contributions of about $35,000 each came from straw donors. The FBI says it has no evidence indicating they had any such knowledge.

Boren and Henry have sent the amounts in question, $35,600 and $35,000 respectively, from their campaigns to several charities. McMahan said he has no such funds left to do the same, but fired the head of his abstract division and a contributor to his race, who is listed by the FBI as an alleged straw donor to Boren's campaign.

Considering the fund solicitation frenzy occurring in most major election campaigns, it strains credulity to assume this idea was solely formulated by Stipe and his alleged cohorts for their exclusive purposes. It is cause to wonder if there are not others who may be involved in other races and possibly involving other candidates.

Oklahoma law prohibits a person from contributing to or a candidate receiving more than $5,000 from that person in one election cycle. Some of the alleged straw donors gave the maximum.

Simply put, the illegal scheme takes at least three people. Person A, who has contributed the maximum allowed and wants to give more or for some reason does not want to be known, gives money to person B who in turn gives it to candidate C.

Exactly why anyone would want to be person B is a puzzle, but obviously there are those willing to participate, whatever their reason.

Candidates have a shield behind which to hide. A donor is required to sign a pledge stating "The contribution listed above was freely and voluntarily given by me from my personal property. …

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