Chris Casteel, The Oklahoman, from Washington reports that 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.
About the reporter: Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman’s Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where The Oklahoman has had a full-time bureau for more than 70 years. While there, Casteel has covered Oklahoma people and issues in Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court and federal agencies and courts in the Washington area. He reported on the Anita Hill hearings, the impeachment and trial of former President Bill Clinton, the federal investigation of former state Sen. Gene Stipe and numerous elections. He has been to 11 national political conventions and five presidential inaugurations.