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Oklahoma schools superintendent's loans to campaigns draw criticism

Opponent criticizes loans by Oklahoma schools Superintendent Janet Barresi as effort to buy the job.
by Nolan Clay Modified: February 3, 2014 at 7:03 pm •  Published: February 3, 2014

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi has loaned more than $1 million to her two campaigns for the state's top education post, her fundraising reports show.

Barresi, a dentist, loaned $350,000 last year to her re-election campaign, reports show.

The Edmond Republican loaned her first campaign $731,345, eventually repaying herself about $60,000, the reports show.

“She's put her money where her mouth is,” her campaign manager, Sam Stone, said.

“She's not running for another office. She's not using this as a boost to her career. The only special interest in Janet's world is the kids,” he said. “And that's why she's doing this. And that's why she's willing to put her own money up.”

Her Republican challenger, Joy Hofmeister, complained the superintendent is spending that much money to buy herself the job.

“It's troubling that an out-of-control millionaire is so obsessed with wrecking education in Oklahoma, that she would spend that kind of personal money to continue the reign of terror she has forced upon our parents, kids and teachers,” Hofmeister said. “I think Oklahomans won't allow that to happen this year.”

Hofmeister is a former public schoolteacher who operates a math and reading program for children in south Tulsa.

With last year's loans, Barresi raised a total of $525,755 as of Dec. 31.

Hofmeister raised a total of $321,663 last year, the reports show.

The latest campaign contribution reports were due Friday at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

Five Democrats are seeking the schools superintendent position.

Raising the most so far among the Democrats is John Cox, of Locust Grove. His total is $136,894 as of Dec. 31.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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