How to Steal a State: Season 5, Episode 1
Dark Money Multiplication – The Big Takedown - Plundering in the Primaries
A Quick Recap for New Readers (All caught up? Skip down to Episode 1)
It’s 2022, and the attempt to steal Oklahoma from those who live, work, worship and raise families there has entered a new and perhaps final stage. Within the first four seasons of How to Steal a State, we learned how Joy Hofmeister was chosen by the education establishment to serve on the State Board of Education and kick up dust around Janet Barresi, the state’s first ever Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction. Hofmeister, while playing the public part of the conservative, was then supported by illegally connected dark money and the local media to primary Barresi out of office.
From the Oklahoma County DA’s lead investigator into the political conspiracy, we came to understand Hofmeister as both piranha and pawn, as what we refer to as the Steal Team, a handful of political consultants, fueled by billionaires, big business, education unions and special interests, was using extortive tactics to control which campaigns in Oklahoma were funded and how those candidates legislated or lead once in office. We were introduced to the billionaire benefactors who came to Hofmeister’s legal defense after she was charged with five felonies related to her dark money conspiracy, though they were just as likely stepping in to save their similarly charged, political bagman, Fount Holland, and the cabal of unscrupulous consultants allowing them to control the legislature and public education.
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We learned how Hofmeister then used her office to do the bidding of the education unions and Oklahoma’s most maniacal moguls through a teacher walkout and pandemic shutdowns. We watched as Hofmeister was again chosen to play the role of dust devil, this time cutting a path of obstructionism through Governor Kevin Stitt’s agenda, with her sights set on the highest political office in the state. Hofmeister then shed her conservative disguise and the Republican party, simultaneously announcing her coming out as a Democrat and her candidacy for governor. By using dark money to hyperbolically disparage and discredit the people’s true representatives, a small but powerful group is now taking a shot at the governor’s office.
If you’re having trouble deciding who the true people’s representatives are in your state, they are the only office holders trying to loosen the grip of the political establishment, entrenched bureaucrats, the media, and special interests. It’s the person who is finally speaking with common sense, guarding the personal rights of the individual citizen, and attempting to fix what your state’s bloated, inefficient, corrupted government has driven into the ground, like public education. And as negative media stories and attack ads sponsored by new and deceptively named organizations begin to flow against one of your people’s representatives, consider which groups, industries or interests in your state might have a vested interest in taking that person out of office. Each state has different industries and interests, but it’s a pretty good bet that your people’s representatives are on the hit list of your state-level teachers’ union.
Governor Kevin Stitt is clearly the most wanted Oklahoman to be taken down by the establishment in this year’s election cycle, and the dark money is lining up to do the job. Joy Hofmeister only needed to coordinate one independent expenditure (IE) to eliminate Janet Barresi as State Superintendent in the 2014 Republican primary. She’ll need to rely on much larger and numerous shadowy groups to take down Governor Stitt in the general election, and those groups are stepping up en masse.
An IE is a political campaign funded by a “social welfare” non-profit for the purpose of promoting or discouraging the election of a candidate. Donations to IEs remain anonymous, making this world of dark money highly susceptible to illegal collusion. Campaign law dictates that such social welfare entities cannot be connected to or coordinated by a candidate, though we’ve already learned that Hofmeister did just that, successfully, with no consequences. Now it’s 2022, and Oklahoma is choking in a dustbowl of dark money, as the Steal Team seeks full control of the state.
Episode 1 - The Steal Team Hits Big in the Primaries
Primary elections took place in Oklahoma, on June 28th, resulting in an expected victory for incumbent governor Kevin Stitt (R) and some equally big wins for the Steal Team. Stitt clinched the Republican primary for governor with 69.06% of the 359,871 votes cast, defeating three challengers with strikingly similar platforms to his own agenda and record of governance during his first term.
Joy Hofmeister (D) won the Democratic primary with 60.73% of the 167,807 votes cast, defeating only one challenger in far-left candidate Connie Johnson. As investigator Eastridge, formerly of the Oklahoma County DA’s office, warned was the common practice in Oklahoma based on complaints from multiple candidates, the powerbrokers appear to have boxed out any real competitors for the Democrat nomination for governor, easily clearing the path for Hofmeister.
The deluge of deceptive, dark money ads and mailers preceding the primary elections appear to have worked like a charm, not only in propelling Joy Hofmeister (now D) to the nomination for governor within her newly found party, but in eliminating other office holders and candidates who were truly seeking to do the will of the people. The results of last week’s primaries reveal just how large the Steal Team is and how many state-level seats and elections are in their crosshairs. The team is multi-layered, from candidates to the tight group of grifty political consultants funneling them to nefarious funders, special interest groups, unions, and industries, to power-seeking, self-inflated members of the global billionaires’ club.
From the lead investigator into the Hofmeister conspiracy of 2014, we came to understand Hofmeister as both piranha and pawn, as a handful of political consultants, fueled by big donors, were using extortive tactics and connections to control which campaigns in Oklahoma were funded and how those candidates legislated or lead once in office. They function as the command center for the Steal Team where those who wish to control everything flow resources to those who seek the spotlight, and the go-betweens get rich while crafting the public messages that coerce voters to willingly hand over their state and their freedoms. The fingerprints of these political plunderers are all over the primary results. They seem to have their sticky fingers in every race, and their mafia-like style of arm-bending has become very big business.
Dark money has exploded across Oklahoma, and with the Steal Team so active, there is much to cover. As a result, this final season of How to Steal a State, covering the 2022 election cycle, will need to be divided into smaller episodes. Today, in Episode One, we’ll look at one very important primary race, the unexpected result, the Steal Team’s intricate involvement, and a host of oddities in that process.
The State Attorney General’s Primary Ends Well for the Steal Team and the Cannabis Industry
Nowhere in the primaries is the hidden power of the Steal Team more evident than in this year’s State Attorney General’s race. Incumbent John O’Connor was appointed to the position in mid-2021 after Mike Hunter stepped down in scandal. O’Connor has been an unwavering defender of second amendment and medical freedoms, consistently challenging federal vaccine mandates during his tenure, despite constant criticism from the local media, particularly for his belief that America was founded as a “God-based nation”.
Challenger Gentner Drummond was narrowly defeated by Mike Hunter in the 2016 race for this seat and appears to have enlisted the full Steal Team’s assistance to assure that didn’t happen again.
Drummond defeated O’Connor in last week’s Republican primary by a very narrow margin:
· Gentner F. Drummond 180,444 votes (50.87%)
· John M. O’Connor 174,256 votes (49.13%)
With the Steal Team boxing out for Drummond, the previous pattern of uncontested AG’s has predictably repeated itself. Drummond has no Democratic challenger in the general election. As multiple, unhappy candidates reported to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office during the 2013-14 election cycle, a small group appears to decide who runs, who gets funded, who has a challenger and who has a clear path to victory in Oklahoma politics. Only Lynda Steele, the sole Libertarian Party candidate will face Drummond in this November’s general election.
Drummond’s campaign was masterminded by none-other-than Stephanie Alexander, co-indictee of Joy Hofmeister for her role in coordinating the dark money group Oklahomans for Public School Excellence in conjunction with the Hofmeister campaign back in 2013-14. Then Stephanie Milligan, she was the partner (and now spouse) of Chad Alexander who’s arrest on charges of driving under the influence of cocaine and pills and the subsequent confiscation of his devices provided critical evidence related to the political conspiracy. Drummond’s campaign, to date, has paid Alexander more than $35,000 for her services.
Alexander is joined on Drummond’s campaign team by Jenna Worthen, spouse of Trebor Worthen, former partner in AH Strategies and Majority Designs, the now dissolved consulting firm of record for Hofmeister’s 2014 campaign. Trebor Worthen’s partner at AH Strategies, Fount Holland, was also indicted along with Hofmeister, though communications also revealed Trebor Worthen’s nearly equal involvement. Jenna Worthen’s consulting firm, James Martin Company, has thus far collected over $154,000 from Drummond’s campaign for a range of services including strategic consulting. Worthen served as filing agent for Drummond’s campaign with the Oklahoma Ethic Commission (OEC).
Not to be left out, former indictee Fount Holland, through his newest entity Campaign Advocacy Management Professionals (CAMP), has billed the Drummond campaign over $676,000 for mailers, Facebook and social media services, and strategic consulting. I hope you have a calculator handy, because the Steal Team is not done with Drummond yet. Holland’s current partner at CAMP, Matthew Parker, has yet another entity called Team Thrive LLC that has billed Drummond’s campaign over $49,000 to date for field staff expenses.
Gentner Drummond must really want to be Attorney General. Already nearly $1 million into the Steal Team for the collective services of the state’s most notorious cabal of consultants and political entities, Drummond made a highly unusual and last minute move by personally loaning his campaign $1.45 million in 11 installments and sinking over $1.2 million into media buys during the second quarter of 2022.
The amounts and timing of Drummond’s self-loans are suspect. A thinking person might question whether these were truly personal funds from Drummond to his campaign or whether funds could have been fed to Drummond’s personal accounts from outside sources, just in time to blitz Oklahoma with stunning television montages of Drummond as the former fighter pilot and committed family man.
Drummond, majority owner of Blue Sky Bank, businessman, attorney, rancher and second-cousin to Pioneer Husband Ladd Drummond, clearly has deep pockets. It is more than conceivable that he consulted the $111,350 worth of polling data he contracted for through DC-based Cygnal LLC, learned the race was tightening, and went all-in with millions of his own money to promote himself, attack O’Connor and win the seat.
However, these personal loans are of widely varying amounts, from $14,000 to $361,000, and were not reported in chronological order within Drummond’s required submissions to the OEC related to campaign contributions. If one was simply running down the list of withdrawals from personal accounts as they flowed as loans into his campaign account, one would generally expect them to be reported in order by date. A large, last-minute loan of $200,00 is oddly reported first.
Gentner Drummond’s personal loans to his campaign, in order as listed within his 2nd quarter 2022 filings with the OEC:
6/13/2022 - $200,000
4/4/2022 - $300,000
5/5/2022 - $361,000
5/6/2022 - $50,000
5/13/2022 - $100,000
5/17/2022 - $50,000
5/20/2022 - $14,000
5/27/2022 - $75,000
5/31/2022 – $50,000
6/3/2022 - $30,000
6/6/2022 - $220,000
At best, these sums reveal to Oklahomans that a seat in Oklahoma can be bought, if only by a wealthy candidate. At worst, the OEC may want to look at Drummond’s personal, financial records to confirm this money started out as Drummond’s and is not from an outside source. Either way, with nefariously funded attorney generals currently causing chaos across America, the public has some thinking to do about Drummond.
Is Drummond sinking $1.45 million of his own money into a primary race for the pure privilege of serving the people of Oklahoma? Does he expect to somehow recoup those funds with dividends once in office? Were those funds ever really his or will he now be answering to whichever funders the Steal Team may have secretly connected him with once comfortably in office and deciding who does and who does not get prosecuted in Oklahoma? Will there be some creative accounting and recouping from his re-election campaign in 2026, just as Hofmeister repaid herself under a different committee from donor funds (see Season Four of How to Steal a State)?
Drummond is no stranger to using other-people’s money, such as the tax-payers’, rather than his own and came under fire during the campaign for collecting $3.6 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans (Covid PPP) among his businesses. Some of those loans were processed by his Blue Sky Bank, drawing further scrutiny about conflicts of interest as the bank collected more than $70,000 in processing fees and interest from the loans.
In total, Drummond’s public campaign to date had just over $2.8 million in total funding, with less than half of that amount in identifiable contributions from individuals. Most of Drummond’s funds were from personal loans. In contrast, incumbent John O’Connor’s campaign had just over $1.5 million total, with over 95% of those contributions coming from identifiable individuals.
If it feels like there may be some fog on the windows of Drummond’s campaign, you should know, in keeping with the Steal Team’s past playbook, there was also an additional and significant amount of dark money working against O’Connor in the form of attack ads by a “social welfare” group called Advancing Freedom, Inc. The group ran ads, highly viewed social media posts and website narratives, now removed, comparing O’Connor to Joe Biden related to his critical comments about increased energy prices to consumers by gas producers after the exceptional winter storm of February 2021. If that’s the best dirt they could come up with on a sitting state attorney general, O’Connor may be as squeaky clean as Oklahoma is going to get, and his elimination in the primary likely represents a major loss for the state.
Like most IEs, Advancing Freedom, Inc. is shadowy. An Oklahoma entity of the same name was filed in 2014 with the Secretary of State listing Earnest P Foster of Warr Acres as its registered agent. It is unclear if this is the same entity, given the generic name, but 2019 IRS forms for Advancing Freedom, Inc. lead back to Sagac Public Affairs, a political marketing and public relationship company in Oklahoma City that lists Advancing Freedom as a client. It’s odd that Sagac Public Affairs lists the entity as a client but seems to be directly responsible for its tax liabilities. It seems Sagac Public Affairs has a bit of a split personality.
Sagac Public Affairs, founded in 2014, helps candidates, companies and organizations, such as former Governor Mary Fallin, Pfizer and the Solar Energy Association, navigate, fundraise and message within the world of PACs and IEs. Sagac partners Trey (John W Richardson III) and Jeri Richardson also operate GR Pro, LLC, founded in 2008 as a similar firm specializing in “fundraising, issue advocacy and electioneering”. The Richardson’s have been highly active in coordinating dark money in Oklahoma and elsewhere for some time, including during their unsuccessful attempt to promote media darling Mick Cornett (see Season Four of How to Steal a State) over now Governor Stitt in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary through the entity Foundation for Economic Prosperity.
Dark money isn’t the only profitable game for the Richardson’s. John W Richardson III (Trey) is also the registered agent for three related entities (for profit and LLC) associated with Integrity Testing, Inc., a drug testing company in Oklahoma City that specializes in “same-day potency testing for all cannabis products”. Though the Secretary of State shows all related entities to be either expired or inactive, the company appears to be currently operating within the state, happily serving cannabis producers and dealers. Gentner Drummond, though fully positioned as the ‘law and order’ champion throughout the primaries, makes no mention in his campaign ads of the growing criminality surrounding the cannabis industry throughout Oklahoma.
Not surprisingly, John W Richardson is also registered agent for a host of other not-for-profit entities, including Secure Oklahoma, Inc. (2013; in existence; Facebook) and Modernize Oklahoma, Inc. (2016; in existence), as well as for-profit B R S C LLC (2011; now inactive). Modernize Oklahoma, Inc. worked to limit regulations on the cannabis industry following the passage of State Question 788 (medical marijuana) and state question 792 (alcohol law reform). From the former modernizeoklahoma.com website:
modernize oklahoma is a 501 (c) (4) non-profit organization of trade associations, businesses, individuals and advocacy groups working together to ensure the oklahoma legislature and agencies implement common sense laws and regulations for the cannabis, alcohol and tobacco industries that further free enterprise while protecting consumer health
It seems the controversial and highly profitable cannabis industry is deep into Oklahoma politics, and perhaps they preferred for AG O’Connor, who closely aligns with Stitt’s positions on the need for increased oversight of the industry, to no longer remain in office. And as coincidence or other forces would have it, Drummond’s Blue Sky Bank has quite the profitable specialization going with its services and funding for “Cannabis Business Customers”. Early on in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry, growers and dealers had difficulty finding banks that would work with them, due to current federal laws prohibiting their activities. It’s understandable that banks, who are FDIC insured and regulated, would wish to comply with all federal laws and would refuse to service funds gained from subverting those laws.
Drummond doesn’t appear to have any hang-ups about side-stepping federal legislation. In fact, Blue Sky Bank created an entire line of services labeled “Cannabis Banking” and states its pride is being one of the few banks in the state to offer such services to the industry. With catch phrases like “your bud in banking”, “where the grass is greener”, “supporting your budding business”, “we’ll be blunt about your business”, “in the weed(s) with you”, “let’s grow your business”, “your joint partner in banking”, and “let’s take your business higher”, Drummond’s Blue Sky Bank is all in with the cannabis industry, despite federal law and the serious consequences to Oklahoma’s quality of life which we’ll detail in future episodes.
It's hard to imagine a State Attorney General who is profiting as a financier of the state’s cannabis industry being much help in addressing the serious issues cannabis has created for Oklahomans. Perhaps Drummond is unfamiliar with even the NIH’s admission that cannabis use is “involved in approximately 50% of psychosis, schizophrenia, and schizophreniform psychosis cases”. Oklahomans have daily, first-hand evidence of these toxic effects at nearly every major stoplight within its more urban areas, as the homeless have multiplied and increased in erratic and criminal behavior since the passage of a very loose, medical marijuana state question in 2018 and the explosive growth of both dealers and users across the state.
Drummond’s campaign ads were dripping with information about his military service, commitment to second ammendment rights and his opposition to defunding law enforcement but were carefully crafted to avoid any mention of cannabis issues, as well as the issues of threatened medical freedoms and serious impacts to the state due to illegal immigration. Can Oklahoman’s trust Drummond to pursue the rule of law on any of those issues, given his involvement with a federally illegal industry?
The same groups aligned with Drummond are mounding other piles of dark money, beyond the completed hit on AG O’Connor, to use against Stitt and anyone else not onboard with their interests. In coming episodes of Season Five, we’ll look at two particularly active and uniquely Oklahoman, special interest groups who would be unlikely to align under any other circumstances, the entities they’re using to do their dirty work and begin to pick our way through the torrent of untraceable funds flowing through the Steal Team to unseat Oklahoma’s current governor. We’ll also dig into some other important primary runoff races, included a U.S. Senate seat featuring a former Steal Team favorite, help you get to better know your local Tech Tyrant, and see who’s propping up the Hofmeister campaign this time.
From Oklahoma? Please comment and tell us what you might know or think about the attempted theft of the state.
From another state? Please comment and let us know what’s happening in your state and who’s plotting to steal the place you call home.
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