WASHINGTON — A group that has spent nearly $400,000 to boost the U.S. Senate campaign of state Rep. T.W. Shannon organized as a “social welfare” organization under the federal tax code and will be able to keep secret the names of its donors.
Donors to Oklahomans for a Conservative Future can give unlimited amounts of money to help the Republican candidate, but the secrecy comes at a cost: The group must raise at least twice as much money as it can spend on politics.
Oklahomans for a Conservative Future does have to report its expenditures for Shannon to the Federal Election Commission. This month, the group has filed three reports with the FEC showing that it spent $395,178 on television advertising and direct mail on behalf of Shannon, the former state House speaker from Lawton.
The group was registered with the Oklahoma secretary of state as a for-profit corporation, but an attorney said that was a mistake.
Charles Spies, a Washington attorney, said in a brief statement this week that an administrative error led to the registration with the secretary of state.
Oklahomans for a Conservative Future is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, he said.
All filings with the IRS and the Election Commission are correct, he said.
The group was organized by Xavier Neira, who works for Manhattan Construction Co., and Chad Alexander, a lobbyist and political consultant.
Two separate groups
Neira is also the chairman of a group called the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future, which raised large sums from corporations and individuals in 2012 to help Republican incumbents in the Oklahoma Legislature beat back tea party challengers.
Alexander is a consultant for the group and, according to state records, was paid about $50,000 in the 2012 election year.
Among those giving to the Coalition for Oklahoma’s Future are people and entities who have publicly announced support for Shannon:
•The Chickasaw Nation gave $50,000 to the coalition. Shannon is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, which is supporting Shannon’s candidacy Gov. Bill Anaotubby said in a statement on Friday, “T.W. Shannon is a person of great compassion and strength of character. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the indomitable spirit, courage and humility necessary to be a true servant leader.”
Alexander, a former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, was registered as a federal lobbyist for the Chickasaw Nation for a brief time, ending in 2005.
Former U.S. Ambassador L. Francis Rooney III gave $50,000 to the coalition through his Rooney Holdings.
Neira, the chairman of the coalition and an organizer of the group helping Shannon, works for one of the Rooney companies, Manhattan Construction.