Two of Oklahoma’s most prominent Democratic consultants have sent a demand letter to the Oklahoma Democratic Party in the consultants’ efforts to collect money they say is owed them for their work last year.
Mike Carrier, president of Carrier Marshall & Associates, confirmed the attempt to collect $6,000, the balance he says is still owed him and partner Chebon Marshall on a $20,000-plus fundraising contract the firm signed with the party last year. Carrier said his firm’s efforts produced more than $100,000 for the party.
Carrier said the party made regular payments to his firm under former Chair Lisa Pryor and one payment was made under new Chairman Ivan Holmes, who acknowledged the debt and said it would be paid. Then, Carrier said, the payments stopped and efforts to collect have thus far failed. A demand letter is a normal procedure in debt collection; if unanswered, a lawsuit sometimes results.
The failure of the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s new leadership to keep its word has led us to an inescapable point. We have negotiated in good faith with the party. We have carried a significant party debt quietly for nearly a year. We had reached a settlement agreement and the party was paying us in increments as it could. We were happy with the arrangement. The previous party officers and the new party leadership have admitted the debt exists and it is completely legitimate. They have made payments to us. The new party officers have now chosen to unexpectedly and abruptly break our settlement agreement and brought this action upon themselves.
We created a fundraising program for the party that enabled it to hold two of the most successful fundraisers the party has ever had. We designed and implemented a fundraising program that enabled the party to erase a significant portion of a nearly $500,000 debt in a very short time. Those facts are undisputed.
At this time, we have not sued the Democratic Party. We have simply sent them a communication demanding payment.
While we are Democrats, we are also a small business. We have been forced into this position by party leaders who are proving themselves incapable of managing and leading our party. We must protect our interests. We seek only what is rightfully ours.
Carrier Marshall & Associates graciously wrote off a significant portion of the debt in order to assist the party in a time of trouble. Everyone knows the party is on the verge of complete financial collapse because fringe elements of the party now control critical leadership positions. The party has barely been able to make their rent payments the last few months. There is significant infighting among elected party leaders and the entire party is in jeopardy. If it were not for the National Democratic Party paying for employees, there would be no staff in party offices and the Democratic Party would cease to exist in Oklahoma as a functioning organization.
We are not the only debt the party owes. We are not the only vendor pressing the party for payment.
It is our hope that Chairman Holmes and his band of advisors will soon come to their senses and pay the balance of our settlement agreement. If they do that, this matter will be closed.
If they do not, they will be the ones responsible for what occurs next.
Marshall said, "Above all else I’m in the business of electing Democrats. I’ll always do all I can to work with the Oklahoma Democratic Party leaders to resolve this matter and keep our focus on the elections next year."
Carrier, a former award-winning newspaper reporter whose work on a South Florida FBI shootout was considered for a Pulitzer Prize, has been a political consultant for almost two decades. Marshall was a top aide to former Congressman Brad Carson. Their firm is among the state’s most successful in electing Democrats and counts as it clients Governor Brad Henry, Congressman Dan Boren, former Congressman Brad Carson, and numerous candidates for the Oklahoma Legislature and other offices.
Mike McCarville has covered Oklahoma politics and government since 1980 and publishes the McCarville Report called "The best political blog." by Dr. Keith Gaddie, pollster and pundit and "Oklahoma’s venerable McCarville Report" by The Arkansas Times.