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Lobbyists contribute $360,000 to Oklahoma candidates

A 2008 Oklahoma law limited the timing of some lobbyist contributions to candidates, but the donations keep flowing.
BY PAUL MONIES Published: August 8, 2010
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Registered lobbyists have given more than $360,000 to campaigns for the fall elections, with statewide candidates picking up the biggest share of the contributions.

That's according to an analysis of state Ethics Commission filings by The Oklahoman.

The total haul so far could outpace lobbyist contributions from the last gubernatorial election year. Lobbyists gave more than $588,000 to candidates for the 2006 election.

The Oklahoman identified more than 130 registered lobbyists who gave contributions to 2010 campaigns. Just five lobbyists have given almost one-third of the $360,000 total so far.

Republicans, who control the House and Senate, received about $190,000, while Democrats got almost $155,000.

Another $13,000 went to nonpartisan judicial candidates.

Lobbyists allow groups, businesses and associations to have a voice at the Capitol when legislation that affects them is being formulated.

Lobbyists said they give to campaigns for many of the same reasons as other contributors: to support candidates who share their views. Individuals cannot give more than $5,000 to each candidate in an election cycle.

"My philosophy on giving is that it's people I have a relationship with that I hope to see do well," said Bobby Stem, founder of lobbying firm Capitol Gains LLC. "We give when our friends ask for it and are needing it for certain media buys and things like that."

Top contributors

Barry K. Moore, who represents rural telephone companies for The BKM Group, is the top lobbyist contributor with about $43,000 for 2010 campaigns. Most of those contributions went to House and Senate candidates in both parties.

Other top lobbyist contributors are:

Jami Longacre, $25,600. Longacre's clients include companies in the finance, insurance and automobile sectors.

Clayton Taylor, $23,850. He represents clients across several industries, including utilities, finance, health care and technology. "We look at folks who have been helpful in creating a more pro-business climate in the state of Oklahoma," Taylor said.

Benny Vanatta, $22,750. His clients include companies in the energy and manufacturing industries, as well as several health-related associations.

Stem, who has contributed more than $18,000 to 2010 candidates. Among Stem's clients are the Choctaw Nation, the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors and the Fraternal Order of Police.

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Lobbyist contributions

The Oklahoman identified at least $360,000 in campaign contributions from registered lobbyists to state candidates in the election so far. Here's how the contributions break down by office:

1. Governor: $87,000

2. Senate: $76,000

3. House of Representatives: $63,000

4. Lieutenant Governor: $42,000

5. Treasurer: $24,000

6. Insurance Commissioner: $20,000

7. Other offices: $48,000

*Note: The analysis matched a list of registered lobbyists with individual contributions from Ethics Commission data. The amounts are conservative and may not reflect misspellings or other reporting errors by campaigns.

SOURCE: THE OKLAHOMAN ANALYSIS OF STATE ETHICS COMMISSION FILINGS

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