Updated: The Tulsa County Election Board has received and forwarded complaints to law enforcement that County Commissioner District 3 Candidate Bob Jack’s campaign mailer in mid-June was illegal ballot harvesting. Multiple complaints have been forwarded to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office. Tulsa Today reported June 20th that Jack’s mailer violated privacy and risked identity theft, but the story keeps growing.
Update 1: Rachel Roberts, Director of Communications for the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General today notified Tulsa Today that they, “received a recusal from DA Kunzweiler’s office and we are in the process of assigning the case to another DA for review,”
The official definitions of “Absentee Ballot Harvesting” include, “Partially or fully completing an application for an absentee ballot on behalf of another person without that person’s prior consent.” Bob Jack’s campaign mailed absentee ballot applications to voters that included their full legal names, addresses and birthdays completed on the form without their “prior consent.”
According to ethics filings, Bob Jack has engaged Axiom Strategies of Kansas City, MO. to provide campaign consulting. The national firm’s website claims “1,100 campaigns served, 50 state experience, 250 million mailers sent,” but apparently they did not check Oklahoma’s 2020 Ballot Harvesting Law for this campaign.
While absentee ballot harvesting of less than ten ballots is a misdemeanor, “absentee ballot harvesting involving ten or more absentee ballots is a felony, punishable by five years in prison, a $50,000 fine, or both. See 26 O.S. § 16-104.1.”
According to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office, Jack’s campaign mailed campaign literature to potential voters with prefilled absentee ballot applications attached, 56 of which made their way to the Tulsa County Election Board. Jack could be charged with multiple felonies. They may be resolved into a single felony, but the event can not be ignored.
Like many laws passed after the troubled national election of 2020, when do the courts act, before the election when there are no damages or after the election when the courts are loath to overturn? Oklahoma passed the law and enforcement should be swift and set a standard.
Update 2: Bob Jack has not returned calls seeking comment or spoken to reporters at public events. However, at the Freedom Fighters BA for Runoff Candidate Townhall Monday evening, an audience member asked about the ballot harvesting issue and Jack said, “I heard about that today so I got legal counsel and so far, everyone has told me there is nothing there. It’s a nothing-burger folks. I suspect in a couple of days we will have this resolved and it will just go away.”
Maybe apparent felony violations of election law can “go away” in Oklahoma, but it appears this could be the largest number of felonies committed by one candidate in a single race in Oklahoma History.
The term “nothing burger” is the phrase Hillary Clinton used to describe her email scandal.
The runoff election for the Tulsa County Commission District 3 race will be held August 23.
In an exclusive interview Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman, was asked, “Have you sent complaints of ballot harvesting by County Commissioner Candidate Bob Jack, to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office?”
“Yes,” Freeman said,” we are required by law to do that, and we have done so in this case.”
Tulsa Today submitted a Public Record Request for more detail and Freeman wrote in response, “Your open records request is currently being handled by our Assistant District Attorney’s office for fulfillment, as is appropriate for this matter. Their office is in possession of any and all relevant documents pertaining to your request and the records are currently being prepared by the ADA’s office on behalf of the County.”
Tulsa Today submitted Public Records Requests on this potential election crime separately to the Tulsa District Attorney and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s offices Monday, August 1.
Roberts, for the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General detailed, “As you know, our review process includes initial intake, records search, legal review and redaction of privileged or exempted records that may be captured by the search. Although the Oklahoma Open Records Act generally presumes all records are open, it includes many exemptions and exceptions to this general rule, such as exemption, which permits our office to maintain the confidentiality of our litigation and investigation files. 51 O.S.2021 § 24A.12.”
Tulsa Today suggests voters should be fully aware of the issue, resolved or not, prior to voting August 23. Any further updates on this issue will be posted to this page.
Bob Jack is the immediate past-Chairman of the Republican Party of Tulsa County and served as Treasurer under his predecessor. Jack is the State GOP Committeeman for Tulsa County and active on several city and county committees including the Election Board at one time, but in his race, Jack repeatedly asserts he is, “not a politician.” However, given his official offices and involvement in multiple Republican campaigns, that he did not know of the 2020 absentee ballot harvesting law is simply implausible.