Yesterday afternoon, Clifton Adcock with The Frontier reported that State Sen. Roger Thompson was trying to sneak in legislation that would allow our moral, righteous and highly-ethical lawmakers to use campaign funds for personal expenses, like their mortgage, vacation, or a full download of “Hot Wife Chloe Needs To Be Punished.”
Here are details via The Frontier:
As legislative session winds down, Senator proposes amendment to allow politicians to spend campaign funds on vacations, mortgages, gifts and other personal expenses
As the Oklahoma Legislature enters the final days of its 2020 regular legislative session, a last-minute proposed amendment to a bill in the Senate has emerged that would allow politicians to use campaign money to pay for personal expenses including country club dues, mortgage payments, vacations and a other personal items.
The proposed amendment to House Bill 3996 authored by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, would remove the state’s prohibition against candidates for office and office holders spending money donated to their political campaign committees for personal use. The amendment, which would replace all language in the original bill that was approved in March by the House, has yet to be voted on by the Senate.
As most of our readers know, I love to criticize Oklahoma lawmakers for their idiotic ideas, but I don’t have a big problem with this one.
First of all, most politicians do this already, so we might as well make it legal and put everything out in the open. Seriously, if you’re a political candidate who hasn’t figured out how to pocket your campaign dollars for personal use, you’re doing it wrong, and should probably contact Oklahoma “ethics” attorney Glenn Coffee. He can show you all the innovative, legal and totally ethical ways you can take advantage of your campaign cash.
Second, it will finally give me the financial incentive I need to run for public office! I’m think I’ll start small and go for Mayor of Oklahoma City. It seems like a pretty easy gig. You just need to post a lot of stuff on social media, wear sneakers with a suit, and like or RT every compliment people from the Chamber of Commerce shoot your way.
Unfortunately, it looks like all of that is a moot point. Not too long after The Frontier reported the story and generated some online outrage, Senator Thompson reached out to say the whole thing was just a big joke:
Senator: Bill to allow use of campaign funds for personal expenses was offered to ‘prove a point,’ now withdrawn
A measure introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature this week that, if passed, would have allowed politicians to use campaign money for personal expenses was an attempt to prove a point in budget negotiations, its author told The Frontier.
Hours after The Frontier published a story on Thursday evening about a proposed amendment by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, to House Bill 3996 that would have removed the state’s prohibition on politicians using campaign money for personal expenses, Thompson withdrew the amendment from consideration.
Thompson, who is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Frontier that he had submitted the proposed amendment to the bill to prove a point about “transparency” during budget negotiations with the House, and that the amendment was “never intended to go anywhere.”
Yep, just like that time in college you got drunk and asked your platonic friend if she wanted to make out, Thompson was just joking around and being silly, and wasn’t in any way being serious and should probably go ahead and leave now anyway.
This is actually a somewhat believable excuse. The original bill was less direct, and more sinister:
The bill was originally authored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, with Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, coming on board as principal Senate author later.
Under the language authored by Wright, political committees would be allowed to raise funds under a “purpose” listed in its Ethics Commission filings but then donate unlimited amounts of money to other political committees that may have nothing to do with or be opposed to the committee’s purpose.
It also allowed for traditional political action committees that are used to donate to candidates to instead make unlimited donations to so-called Super PACs, which can spend unlimited amounts of money in an election and often mask their donors by funneling money through nonprofit groups.
I don’t know about you, but wouldn’t it be nice to live in a place where lawmakers are more concerned about coming up with logical, common sense reforms for issues facing our state — as opposed to dreaming up new ways for powerful, secretive special interest groups to corrupt our political system even further?
Anyway, although this bill is squashed and it won’t be as easy to directly pocket campaign funds, my political dreams aren’t on hold quite yet. I think I may have found a workaround:
Wright, who does not face re-election in 2020 because of term limits, received more than $133,000 in donations to his 2018 campaign and spent more than $109,000, according to the most recent campaign finance filings. The records show Wright’s 2018 campaign has paid several radio stations and a newspaper owned by Wright more than $29,400 for ads, rent and cell phone usage. Wright has also reimbursed more than $1,600 by his campaign, mostly for a trip to Washington D.C., the records show.
Wait. So I can get people to donate to my campaign, and then use that money to buy ads on my own newsish website??? Genius!!! Hold onto your microphone, Mayor McSelfie! Things are going to get fun fast!