Oklahoma congressional candidate won't appear in plumbing company ads

After the Federal Election Commission failed to give him legal guidance, Oklahoma congressional candidate Markwayne Mullin said he would modify his ads to avoid public disclosure requirements.
by Chris Casteel Modified: May 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm •  Published: May 31, 2012

Partisan split

Mullin asked the Federal Election Commission, which enforces federal election laws, for an advisory opinion May 1 about whether his plumbing company ads should be considered electioneering communications. Such communications are typically run by outside groups, and the law was aimed at giving the public information about the source of funding.

The six-member commission deadlocked late Wednesday after voting on two different proposals — one that would have declared that the plumbing company ads weren't election-related and therefore weren't subject to federal rules and another that declared the opposite.

Neither got the four votes necessary for approval.

Two Republican-appointed commissioners voted for the draft opinion that would have spared the ads from public disclosure, while three Democratic appointees voted against and one GOP appointee did not vote. Three Democratic appointees voted for the draft requiring public disclosure, but the three Republican appointees — including the FEC chairman — did not vote on that one.

Comments from opponents

The commission received public comments from six Oklahomans, including one of Mullin's Republican opponents, Wayne Pettigrew. Some of the comments said Mullin has promoted his company through his campaign ads and that the two sets of ads had become indistinguishable.

Pettigrew, of McAlester, told the commission that the plumbing company ads appear to present “an open and shut case of electioneering and use of corporate resources to benefit a candidate and to garner additional support through corporate advertising.”

J.T. Russell, campaign manager for Dakota Wood, one of Mullins' opponents, said in a statement Thursday that the FEC matter showed Mullin “could be misusing corporate resources in his campaign.”

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