Editorial: Corruption in Oklahoma politics

This happens all the time in the unethical realm of politics.

In Oklahoma, candidates for public office must limit the amount of money donated to them by an individual. It’s usually around $5,000.

One way to circumvent the intent of that law is to form a political action committee, which has no limits on donations or spending, and spend tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands on attacking the opponent of your favorite candidate and praising your own pick.

Here’s the catch – candidates can’t set up their own PACs or committees. In fact, there is not supposed to be any communication or instruction between candidates and “dark money.”

Now Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, a liberal Democrat, has filed felony charges against Oklahoma State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, alleging that she violated these campaign finance laws. Charges were filed against her campaign advisors, including Fount Holland of A.H. Strategies, a Republican war machine.

Who knows if Hofmeister or Holland or the other defendants are guilty? That’s up to a judge or a jury to decide.

Had the charges been brought by anyone other than Prater, they would carry more weight. He is a political operative and his motives for this prosecution are suspect.

Hofmeister has not done a good job as state superintendent but that doesn’t mean she broke the law.

Jumping across the legal divide between candidates and dark money is so common – and hard to prove – that it gives the appearance that Hofmeister did just what Prater said she did. A.H. Strategies has a well-deserved reputation for dirty campaigns but again, that doesn’t prove guilt for these felony conspiracy charges.

What do you have when you mix a progressive Democrat DA with a moderate school superintendent and a ruthless political consultant?

You get politics as usual in Oklahoma.