The Corruption Belt – Part 1: Is Catalyst Oklahoma Inc., An Alliance Among OCPA, The Oklahoma State Chamber And Fount Holland (CAMP) To Elect CAMP Clients In The 2022 Election Cycle?
For months I’ve been researching Dark Money in Oklahoma, tying together a wide-reaching web of PACs and Non-Profits and Oklahoma Movers and Shakers and other SWAMP creatures. This is Part 1 of what I hope will be a pretty thorough expose on who pulls the strings to get voters to pull levers in Oklahoma elections.
Since becoming disgusted with the 2022 primary elections – especially former Senator Jake Merrick’s re-election campaign – like some politically nerdy Alice in Wonderland, I accidentally fell down a rabbit hole trying to determine who really decides elections for Oklahomans – voters, or people who use money to influence elections.
What I’ve found is mind-numbing and the absolute reason why grassroots Oklahomans engaged in the political process to elect Constitutionally-minded, small government conservatives are getting their butts handed to them nearly every election. We simply can’t make up in advocacy, what PACS and 501C4’s can raise in money when no one has to know where that money is coming from and – to an extent – where it goes. It all happens in the dark at our expense.
So let’s start with Catalyst Oklahoma PAC. I wrote about them briefly in my analysis of Merrick’s re-election campaign, but since then, I’ve learned much more.
CATALYST’S OCPA/CHAMBER CONNECTION
Catalyst Oklahoma, Inc., was created in October of 2014. A filing made with the Secretary of State’s Office (OKSOS) received October 23, 2014, lists Charles Sublett as Executive Director/Treasurer, Director and President at 100 North Broadway, Suite 1500, OKC, OK 73102. Charles Sublett is a Board Member of OCPA from Tulsa.
With the filing was a copy of a 990-EZ tax return for 2013 (which cannot be found on the IRS website for the non-profit with the same EIN -it also lists a $150,000 donation by an individual whose name was redacted in the Secretary of State filing). The tax return is signed by Charles Sublett and prepared by Edward DeBee of DeBee Gilchrist, A Professional Corporation, 100 North Broadway, Suite 1500, OKC, OK 73102. (Apparently now DeBee Clark Attorneys and Counselors at 1200 NW 63rd Suite 5000).
A 2016 Registration Renewal lists the mailing address as 1200 NW 63rd Suite 5000 and Charles Sublett as President and Director along with Mark Nichols (Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at Koch Industries) and Allen Wright (President of the Hustings Group) – both of whom are on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma State Chamber.
Also tangentially, Allen Wright was involved in OCPA Impact (aka OCPA Oklahoma Policy Solutions Inc.) – a 501C4 organization where Dave Bond served as President and CEO from 2015-2019 (the last available filing for OCPA Impact on IRS.gov). From 2015 to 2018, Allen Wright served in various capacities within the C4. DeBee Cilchrist, A Professional Corporation is listed as the filing agent for that organization as well.
A 2017 Registration Renewal adds Bob Sullivan (former Secretary of Energy under Governor Frank Keating) and the group remains the same for 2018.
No renewals are logged with the OKSOS until 2021 when the address changes to 317 East 33rd in Edmond (the address for Neighborhood Veterinary Services). Officers for 2021 Included Sublett and Wright, but not Nichols and Meg Salyer (former OKC City/Council Member) and former OKC Mayor, Ron Norick were added.
A 2018 article by Brianna Bailey of The Frontier about dark money spending, records a spokesman for OCPA, David Autry, saying that a ‘tax preparer previously listed Catalyst as an OCPA-related nonprofit because of the shared board member, but there was no legal reason to do so.’
Ok, while there may be no “legal” reason, there’s enough overlap to see the connections nonetheless.
CATALYST OKLAHOMA 2015-16 FEC FILING BY STATE CHAMBER ATTORNEY FOR CONGRESSMAN TOM COLE
Catalyst Oklahoma is not a PAC – it’s a 501C4 private non-profit. It can donate either directly to candidates or to PACs and it doesn’t have to publish where its money comes from.
It doesn’t have to file with FEC, but it did in 2015-16 when it supported Tom Cole ($62,099.00) for Congress – a federal position that required the creation of a federal PAC.
The “About” section of the FEC filing has absolutely nothing to identify itself but a PO Box number which links to attorney (and former Oklahoma Senator and Secretary of State) Glenn Coffee, who became the Oklahoma Chamber’s attorney of record in 2013.
Attached to the FEC filing is a letter from attorney Coffee – in response to a letter from the FEC regarding Catalyst’s late filing – that describes efforts by Catalyst Oklahoma including a survey on the Mick Cornett/Ed Shadid mayoral race in 2015.
CATALYST OKLAHOMA’S WEBSITE IS A LIBERAL ORGANIZATION “OK UNITED”
Each 990 tax filing made by Catalyst Oklahoma, Inc., lists their website as www.okunited.org.
Oklahoma United’s main focus is to REPEAL CLOSED PRIMARIES IN OKLAHOMA – an absolutely disastrous idea for conservative politics. But then, conservative politics are not at ALL what this website touts. In fact, this is a website that uses words like “MODERATE” and “MIDDLE” and “CENTRIST” throughout.
Here’s what they’re “doing” in their own words:
- Creating and leveraging existing media content to support and give voice to centrist views and representation for Oklahomans (translation: like Facebook factcheckers, they want to make sure right-sided views are eliminated)
- Joining initiatives to improve voter registration, access, and turnout (translation: pushing for motor/voter laws and pushing for absentee voting?)
- Identifying and addressing obstacles that contribute to partisan fringe domination of Oklahoma politics (translation: working to take out true conservatives in elections)
- Advocating for the Forgotten Middle in Oklahoma (translation: putting money into PACS and elections to sway voters to vote for more government and less freedom)
This is NOT what OCPA says it stands for on its website, but then, it did go full bore for the IMPLEMENTATION OF MANAGED CARE (the step into a single-payer/socialist healthcare system) in Oklahoma this session (2022).
CATALYST OKLAHOMA SUPPORTS CONSERVATIVES IN 2018 GOES QUIET 4 YEARS AND COMES BACK IN 2022 SUPPORTING ANTI-GRASSROOTS CANDIDATES WITH $288,704.11 (4/1-8/10)
A late 2018 Ethics Commission filing for Catalyst Oklahoma shows the address as 1200 NW 63rd Street supporting Cathy Costello for Commissioner of Labor.
Early 2022 Ethics reports for Catalyst Oklahoma carry an address of 817 East 33rd Street Edmond (not 317 as listed on the 2021 OKSOS filing), which corresponds to a building in an office complex off 33rd that has no sign outside but isn’t empty.
A search for that address connects it to the Boggy Depot Land and Cattle Co, incorporated 7/20/22 by Allen Wright. A search for the post office box listed on the Ethics filing returns no associations at all.
Ethics reports for Catalyst Oklahoma from 4/1/22-8/10/22 show that $288,704.11 was paid to support only four candidates – Kristen Thompson against Jake Merrick (Thompson won the Primary outright), Darcy Jech against Brady Butler, Hunter Zearley against Jack Stewart (Stewart won the Primary outright) and Ally Seifried against Jarrin Jackson. CAMP runs candidates Seifried and Jech.
This seems odd, but there is a connection between OCPA and Fount Holland.
From February of 2019 to February of 2020, Fount Holland was a lobbyist for OCPA.
I cannot mention often enough, that Fount Holland was caught colluding with a dark money PAC during Joy Hofmeister’s election against former State Superintendent Janet Baressi.
This lack of ethics isn’t the only issue I have with his tactics, however, which is why I will continue my series on the Corruption Belt with some of the more enlightening information I’ve stumbled upon as I’ve continued to research Dark Money influence and its effect on Oklahoma elections.
For now, know this – true Conservatives will have a horrible time winning elections in this state until we can change Ethics laws to prevent the endless merry-go-round of money through 501C4’s and PACs and the influence spread by sitting legislators who use their campaign ‘war chests’ to fund the campaigns of other legislators and candidates they believe will help their efforts. So be prepared. By the end of this series, you’ll either need to act, or sit on your hands and watch the Bible belt continue to rust into the Corruption Belt while Oklahoma turns blue.