Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater confirmed Wednesday he is reviewing “for potential criminal conduct” complaints against the campaigns of T.W. Shannon, a U.S. Senate candidate, and Joy Hofmeister, a state schools superintendent candidate.
“We’re in a fact-finding mode,” Prater said. “We’re trying to find out if the allegations are credible. And, if they are, if proven, are the allegations criminal in nature.”
The allegations are that there was improper collusion between the two Republican candidates’ campaigns and dark money groups supporting them, The Oklahoman learned. Candidates and such groups are supposed to act independently.
Prater stopped short of calling his inquiry at this point an investigation.
Both Shannon’s campaign and Hofmeister denied there was any coordination with groups supporting them.
“There has been absolutely no coordination between our campaign and any of the groups conducting independent expenditures. Any allegation to the contrary is completely false and without merit,” Shannon’s campaign stated Wednesday.
Hofmeister said Tuesday, “That’s absurd. ...Absolutely not. ...I know that we have been very, very careful to follow all the ethics rules. That’s just a given.”
Prater made his comments about the inquiry into the campaigns in response to questions from The Oklahoman.
The Oklahoman contacted Prater after learning from state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi’s campaign that he had been sent emails written by Hofmeister.
“Today we turned over documents to District Attorney David Prater's office regarding what we believe is illegal coordination between Joy Hofmeister's campaign and an independent expenditure campaign,” Barresi’s campaign manager, Robyn Matthews, said Wednesday.
One document is an email Hofmeister wrote on April 22, 2013, about planned meetings with political consultants in Oklahoma City.
“I am meeting this morning in OKC with Fount Holland (AH Strategies) at 11am and Chad Alexander (probably better fit for the independent campaign) at 1pm,” she wrote.
Without identifying who complained, Prater said Wednesday of the Hofmeister allegation, “I’m aware of that and we’re reviewing it.”
Asked if he had received any similar complaints this year, Prater confirmed there was an allegation of improper coordination between Shannon’s campaign and the group Oklahomans for a Conservative Future.