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Got $400,000 to spend? Don’t waste it on bribing a Democrat.

12:00 AM EDT on April 5, 2011

Most people probably forget this, with the state being overrun by Republicans, but until 2010, the state Senate had always been controlled by the Democratic Party. It was mostly a holdover from a time when Democrats were the more conservative party, and some residual love for Franklin Roosevelt saving the nation during the Great Depression. Also, Gene Stipe had some involvement.

The man pictured above looking like a dementia patient was once the most powerful man in this state. As the power broker to the Democratic Party machine, Gene Stipe to this day makes the editorial staff at The Oklahoman poop their pants...much like Stipe probably does while watching Jeopardy re-runs on his sofa.

In his day, Stipe was probably the most corrupt politician to ever serve the state of Oklahoma, and not coincidentally, he was also the longest serving politician in the state's history (the fact that he kept getting re-elected was the driving force behind term limits passing). Everyone who has been linked to him has at some point had to dodge corruption charges. Former senate majority leader Mike Morgan (not the meteorologist) is no exception.

As a business partner on several deals with Stipe, Morgan had somehow escaped accusations of wrongdoing while he served the state Senate. However, now that he is a private citizen, Morgan is now facing a pretty solid case of bribery.

The FBI uncovered that Morgan, a lawyer in his day job, obtained over $400,000 in "legal fees" that were construed to be conflicts of interest. In essence, the FBI claims that Morgan was taking money for favors he provided as an elected official. His lawyer, interestingly named David Ogle, claiming that Morgan is being charged simply because he's a Democrat is weak sauce, especially considering that uber-Republican Randy Terrill was also recently brought up for courruption charges.

My question, though, is why three companies shelled out close to a half-million for favors from a Democrat. That seems like a bad investment in this state's political climate. Mike Morgan, the meteorologist, is more persuassive and his only power is scary weather forecasts and strongly worded internet message board postings. Sure, the companies were run by Democrats, as well, but it just seems like hiring your accountant brother-in-law to renovate your kitchen and paying him twice as much as a contractor. There are much better uses of money.

After the jump, I list three ways to better spend that $400,000.

Influence City Elections

For the most part, the Oklahoma City council is set. Only the seat for Ward 2 remains open after no one was able to receive a majority of votes in the crowded field of candidates. Those who already have their position are basically an homogonous group that will work to achieve whatever vision Mayor Cornett lays out.

With that supermajority in place then, it seems strange that a group called the "Committee for Oklahoma City Momentum" has shelled out $410,000 to campaign against Ed Shadid, who is in the runoff for that final seat. To put that in perspective, the two actual candidates (Shadid and Charlie Swinton) have combined to raise less than $200,000, and the gig they are running for pays $12,000/year.

All of the money spent by OKC Momentum comes from another group called "A Better Oklahoma City, Inc." The director of this group is someone I consider a friend, and who would like to keep as a friend, especially since I now know she can raise a half million dollars to take me down if I cross her. I do know that this person is not someone whose politics you can pigeonhole so I cannot say there are horrible ulterior motives, but I also know that as a stay-at-home mother, the money wasn't hers.

That's where the real problem comes. Thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, corporations like "A Better Oklahoma City, Inc." are accorded the same speech rights as a human and money is somehow considered speech. That translates to being allowed to shield where the money comes from, a freedom which Better OKC is taking advantage. This is a blueprint that is going to be used in elections from now on. Groups with benign sounding names will be able to collect unlimited amounts of money and using corporate shields will be able to protect anyone from knowing who is behind the campaigns. Both sides of the political spectrum are going to utilize this, and the voters will never know who or what is driving the conversation. George Orwell would love this.

In the short term, the only way to fight Big Brother is to vote for Ed Shadid.

(Disclaimer: Ed Shadid has paid to have an advertisement on  This endorsement is in no way related to that ad.)


Pay OU's new basketball coach until June 9th

Under the circumstances, I think OU's athletic director did a great job in hiring Lon Kruger to replace Jeff Capel. Last week, Patrick outlined the difficult position Joe Castiglione found himself in while trying to fill the head coaching position for the men's basketball program. To summarize, the last two coaches had caused far too many headaches for an athletics department that really only desires a football program. So, they wanted a coach with a pristine image in the eyes of NCAA regulators and that person had to be willing to take on a team decimated in talent that possesses minimal fan support in good times.

Initially, Castiglione aimed high but found that the coaches he targeted had no interest in leaving their good coaching gigs so they could bring Bob Stoops coffee. The names that kept being rumored as candidates to take the job kept getting big contract extensions, which was either a huge coincidence, or the targeted coaches only returned Joe C's calls in hopes of that outcome.

So, it was starting to look like the Sooners' hopes of getting an established coach were down the drain, and they were going to have to roll the dice on another perceived up-and-comer like Capel...we all know how that turned out. Kruger, who reinvigorated a UNLV program that has floundered since they fired Jerry Tarkanian, was a home run hire.

To get him to leave his good gig, though, OU had to open the checkbook. He will make $2.2 million next year, a figure that is slightly more than half of what Bob Stoops will make running the football program. Of course, I doubt anyone would argue that the basketball program means half as much to the university as the football team.


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