The House speaker pro tem-elect said Monday he helped raise money for a political action committee that hasn't filed required financial reports in more than two years, but he had no part in deciding which House candidates received $11,000 in contributions the finals days of their campaigns.
The political action committee, A Positive Solution, contributed $1,000 each to seven incoming freshman GOP House members, causing several House members to say privately the money could have been a deciding factor in Rep. Mike Jackson winning the leadership post.
In addition, four returning GOP House members received a total of $3,000 from the political action committee. Two received $1,000 contributions and two received $500.
A $1,000 contribution was made to a GOP House contender who lost.
All the contributions were reported by the candidates as being received from Oct. 24 through Nov. 1, reports filed with the state Ethics Commission show.
Jackson, R-Enid, who was elected last week as incoming speaker pro tem by House Republicans who will serve in the 2013 and 2014 sessions, said he didn't decide which candidates received campaign contributions. He said he didn't know if the money influenced how new and returning GOP House members voted in his House leadership race held two days after the Nov. 6 elections.
Asked if he was hoping to buy the support of freshman GOP lawmakers, Jackson said, “No.”
“I raised money for that PAC, that's correct,” said Jackson, who was unopposed this year. “I'm not on the PAC board and don't make the decisions on where those monies go.”
Jackson said he raised money for A Positive Solution in 2010 and 2012. Much of the money raised went to GOP legislative candidates, mostly those seeking House seats, who are in contested races. All the money raised this year went to House races.
“I knocked doors, I made phone calls, I raised money from constituents here in Enid as well raise money for various PACs,” he said. “Just trying to make sure we had a good election night.”
The chairman of the committee, Cordon DeKock, of Enid, said he decided which candidates received contributions this year.
He said he thought necessary reports had been filed with the Ethics Commission, which requires committees to file reports each quarter and several days before an election.
“I don't know exactly what's happened there,” said DeKock, who is the only officer listed on A Positive Solution's organization papers filed with the Ethics Commission. “I want to work with the Ethics Commission to address any problems that are out there and to remedy the situation as expediently as possible.
“There's not a conspiracy here,” he said. “It's an unfortunate situation. Decisions were made based on winning the races, not based on anything else.”
DeKock said he hasn't filed the most recent contributions because of problems he's encountered with the online filing process.
DeKock said he would file corrected forms with the agency Tuesday; the agency was closed Monday because of Veterans Day, a state holiday. The agency has the authority to assess fines for reports filed late.
Jackson said it was his understanding that DeKock had filed reports, but that they weren't posted on the agency's website.
House Republicans elected Jackson on Thursday to serve as speaker pro tem for the 2013 and 2014 sessions. He defeated the current speaker pro tem, Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, during the closed GOP House caucus meeting.
Votes for the contested posts were made by secret ballot, Jackson said.
“I would imagine from various PACs they received a lot of money,” Jackson said.
DeKock said the contributions from A Positive Solution were not connected with the House leadership positions.
He was unaware that House Republicans would meet to decide leadership posts just two days after the election.
“When it comes to the politics behind politics, I'm really just that informed on it,” he said. “When the checks were being written to support some of these campaigns, I didn't realize that they were going to have the meeting so close to the election. … That really wasn't a consideration that was made by the PAC.
“It's pretty much my decision,” DeKock said. “We tried to get involved where we could make a difference.”
New members elected to the House who received $1,000 contributions from A Positive Solution were Republicans Arthur Hulbert, of Fort Gibson; Bobby Cleveland, of Slaughterville; Charles McCall, of Atoka; Terry O'Donnell, of Catoosa; Justin Wood, of Shawnee; Scott Biggs, of Chickasha; and Katie Henke, of Tulsa.
GOP Members receiving $1,000 contributions were Reps. John Bennett, of Sallisaw, and Aaron Stiles, of Norman. A recount of Stiles' election is set later this week. Members receiving $500 contributions from A Positive Solution were Reps. Tom Newell, of Seminole, and Sean Roberts, of Hominy.
Chuck Utsler, of Pocasset, a Republican contender for the House District 56 seat, received a $1,000 contribution. He lost last week's election.
Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said he's concerned because the contributions from A Positive Solution give the appearance of trying to influence GOP members, especially incoming freshmen, to vote a certain way for a leadership position.
Reynolds, who monitors Ethics Commission filings, said he also is disappointed that Ethics Commission rules weren't being followed by a political action committee that has ties to an incoming House leader.
“We can understand a simple oversight, but this is a total neglect of duty,” he said.
At a glance
The Ethics Commission's website showed the last report filed by the political action committee A Positive Solution was a statement of inactivity submitted Aug. 23, 2010, saying it had received no money and made no contributions. A financial report filed Jan. 27, 2010, showed the committee had $1,222.46 on hand.