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Janet Barresi manager accuses Joy Hofmeister of breaking law with campaign emails to Oklahoma school administrators

Republicans face off in June 24 primary for state schools superintendent
by Tim Willert Modified: June 19, 2014 at 12:12 am •  Published: June 19, 2014

The campaign manager for state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi alleged Wednesday that rival Joy Hofmeister broke the law by sending campaign-related emails to school district administrators on their work accounts.

>>Read: Hofmeister accuses Barresi of violating federal privacy laws of students, calls for investigation

Hofmeister, of Tulsa, and Brian Kelly, of Edmond, are opposing Barresi in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Hofmeister said the allegations are “desperate attempts” by Barresi to “smear my reputation to distract voters from her failures.”

“I was a private citizen, during the time period of these conversations, responding to emails like most average citizens do,” Hofmeister said in a statement. “Janet Barresi is fast and loose with her accusations hoping to bully me with her personal fortune because I have decided to stand against her and fight for the school children of Oklahoma.”

Illegal use of email?

Barresi campaign manager Robyn Matthews claims Hofmeister or her campaign staff emailed former Jenks Public Schools Superintendent Kirby Lehman, successor Stacey Butterfield, and staffers from other school districts on their work emails to discuss fundraising efforts.

“She and her team were sending fundraising emails to the schools and the schools were passing along the emails,” Matthews said. “Both used state resources to benefit her campaign. State resources are taxpayer dollars.”

The emails in question were obtained by the Barresi campaign through a public records request, Mathews said.

As of Wednesday, the state attorney general’s office had not received a complaint against Barresi, an official with that office confirmed.

In a May 8, 2013, email sent to then-Superintendent Lehman’s school district account, Hofmeister writes: “Contribution cards and envelopes ready for any wanting to take home with them.” She added that her campaign website would soon be operational “with donate now button.”

Lehman, in an email to Hofmeister dated May 12, 2013, admits he is not comfortable using his work email to send out invitations to a fundraiser that he is hosting.

“Simply stated, I do not have computer equipment I can operate from home — except for school equipment with a school email address,” he writes. “Do you have anyone who can help? I am pretty reluctant to send invitations for an event just two weeks in advance, and we are rapidly approaching the two-week limit — and I cannot send them from a school email address.”

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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