Tulsa’s Adkins king of contributions

Republican State Rep. Dennis Adkins of Tulsa apparently has parlayed his chairmanship of the House Energy & Technology Committee into a huge campaign war chest, one larger even than Speaker Lance Cargill’s and one that makes him king of all House members going into the 2008 election year. That, despite the fact Adkins hasn’t had an opponent since 2002 and even in that year, his "opponent" was a no-name Independent who wasn’t a factor.

Adkins, his latest Ethics Committee report shows, is sitting on a campaign fund of $192,236 and that’s after he spent almost $54,000 in the last reporting period.

His total cash on hand swamps Cargill, at $120,297. Cargill, however, spent almost $115,000 in the first nine months of 2007 and shows his total cash amount raised as $208,543.

Only Senator Johnnie Crutchfield tops Adkins among all legislators, Crutchfield showing $251,320 in his campaign fund.

Adkins’ donors include executives of OG&E, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, Devon Energy, Chesapeake Energy, Phoenix Coal Sales and others, including lobbyist Andrew Skeith, who gave him $5,000 in the first quarter of the year; Skeith lobbies for Phoenix Coal Sales, Chaparral Energy and other firms. In that same period, committees donated about $18,000; included were the Devon Energy Political Action Committee, $5,000, and the OG&E Employees Political Action Committee, $2,500.

In the second quarter, city officials and energy company leaders donated $14,150, most of it coming on June 27th. David Chernicky of New Dominion Oil LLC in Tulsa donated $5,000; a present member and former chairman of the Grand River Dam Authority’s board of directors, Chernicky heads the GRDA Coal Committee and has become one of the state’s top donors to candidates. Committees added $11,400 to Adkins’ war chest in the period, with $5,000 from Energy For Oklahomans, $2,500 from the Spectra Energy Corporation Political Action Committee and $1,000 from the Friends of Oklahoma Coal Political Action Committee.

For the year, including the transfer of about $153,000 from his previous campaign, Adkins has banked $246,018 and spent $53,782.

His expenditures show repeated amounts for unspecified "unreimbursed expenses" in addition to unspecified listings for travel, lodging and meals. He paid $12,000 for "campaign plan development" and lists $3,825 in unspecified consulting costs.

In the third quarter, Adkins’ war chest earned $2,194 in interest.

Adkins’ use of campaign funds put him in the news in September 2006, when the Tulsa World’s Mick Hinton reported Adkins was using donations to pay for an Oklahoma City condo he purchased. Adkins subsequently repaid his campaign the $15,596 it spent for rent on the condo. Hinton also reported that Adkins said he reimbursed the campaign to "get this behind me." Adkins said he had asked the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to determine if he followed the law in making the rent payments from his campaign fund. Director Marilyn Hughes said that when Adkins asked her about the payments, he did not mention he owns the condo.

Adkins, 43, was elected to the House in 2000; he’s not had a serious opponent since and in 2004 and 2006, was unopposed. He has yet to comment on rumors he may run for the Corporation Commission seat now held by Democrat Jim Roth.

About the Author:
Mike McCarville has covered Oklahoma politics and government since he became State Capitol Correspondent for The Tulsa Tribune in 1966. Since, he has been a governor’s press secretary, investigative reporter, television station news executive, radio station program director and talk show host, and political consultant. In 1980, he founded The McCarville Report and it is the nation’s longest-running state political publication. In its online version, it has been called "The best political blog" by Dr. Keith Gaddie, pollster and pundit and "Oklahoma’s venerable McCarville Report" by The Arkansas Times.  McCarville, also a real estate investor and commentator for the National Rifle Association on NRANews.com and Sirius Satellite Radio, is a regular contributor to Tulsa Today.